British astronaut Tim Peake offered his support to Saint John Houghton Catholic Voluntary Academy students who took part in a cycling mission that was out of this world.
Thirty-two students were sponsored to cycle a combined total of 250 miles, or 1,600 laps of the Velodrome at Derby Arena, which is the equivalent distance to the International Space Centre where Tim is based.
He retweeted a tweet about the challenge by academy governor Lorna Taylor and added this message of support: “Good luck on your cycling adventure, teamwork and dedication go a long way.”
Lorna, who helped to organise the event, said she was thrilled that Tim had backed the students.
She said: “It was absolutely brilliant get a message from Tim Peake and it certainly spurred all the students and staff on. It was fantastic to see so many smiles, encouragement and teamwork amongst the students.
“Despite the hard work and shaking legs, they all want to ride at the Velodrome again. It’s a real privilege to have such a facility on our doorstep and we’ll definitely be using it again as a school. I’d encourage others to do the same too.
“We’re grateful to everyone who’s supported us and especially our students whose behaviour and effort were exemplary.”
All of the sponsorship money raised by the students who took part will go towards improving facilities at the academy in Kirk Hallam.
Student Liam Evans, 11, said he thoroughly enjoyed taking part.
He said: “I do cycle but I’ve never done anything like this before. It was a great experience as it was something different. There was a lot of skill involved as we had to keep our balance and learn how to stop as the bikes don’t have brakes.”
Student Mackenzie Wood, 12, said it was the first time she’d cycled at the Velodrome.
She said: “At first it was hard but it got easier as I got used to it. It’s great to have a new experience like this and I’d definitely like to do it again.”
Two Derby companies also supported the event; Clean Slate sponsored one of the cycle sessions and Samways Cycles Ltd provided water bottles for every student.
Clair (corr) Wood, projects manager at Clean Slate, said the company was happy to help.
She said: “Clean Slate is proud to have supported the Saint John Houghton cycling challenge – it’s fantastic to see a local school embarking on this fabulous mission. It’s an achievement they should all be immensely proud of.”
Kate Samways, of Samways Cycles Ltd, went along to the Velodrome to cheer the students on.
She said: “Samways Cycles was delighted to support St John Houghton Catholic Voluntary Academy with their school challenge.
“It was such a wonderful opportunity for all the kids involved, to ride the fabulous track at Derby Arena. This challenge was so empowering for them all, as not only will they learn new skills but they will be raising money that will make a huge difference to their school.
“The students were fantastic, they listened to their instructions and they were very confident and we definitely saw improvements the longer they were on the track.”