Getting up at 4:30am on a Sunday should be a criminal offence, but there was a good reason for doing such a stupid thing.
For yesterday was the day when months of hard work, carried out by my esteemed colleague James Wright and the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, as well as a little bit from myself all came together as the Willen Lake Bikaethon finally took place.
Along with the Bikeathon there was a 10k run and walk, with children as young as 8 up to men aged 83 all taking part.
Willen Lake in Milton Keynes was a perfect backdrop for the event, and the sun even shone to help what was a great day – even if it was a tad cold. I don’t think not being able to feel your toes and fingers when it’s nearly May is quite right.
When myself and James arrived on site at 7:00 am, work was already underway in setting up the marquees and volunteers being given their instructions to help ensure that the day ran smoothly.
Everybody was involved, including James and myself as we found ourselves not only setting up our exhibition stands, banners and posters, but also sticking sponsor logo’s and rider and runner numbers onto T-shirts, which resulted in the most efficient production line that these shores have possibly ever seen.
The start of the Bikeathon was a sight to behold, with so many red shirts with the LLR logo emblazoned on them, you struggled to see the start point.
The mayor of Milton Keynes briefly attended proceedings and to speak with the event organisers from the AMYA, competitors young and old, as well as representatives from the charitable organisations that the proceeds from the event were going towards.
Unsurprisingly, there was a really vibrant and friendly atmosphere at Willen Lake with everybody realising they were there to support very worthy causes.
Kids were looking to grab any of the free stuff on offer, at one point our stand looked like a sale at Primark, with items just strewn all over the place. The bang-bang sticks were popular, as were the wristbands until the kids realised they had to make a small contribution for them – I had no idea the youth of today were so ruthless!
I did however have a moment in the limelight. While James was handing out the winners medals, I spoke of the event, the day itself and the impact that such events have on communities throughout Britain – such philosophical, hard-hitting questions were too much for a Sunday, especially when you’ve been awake for nearly nine hours already and still had nearly half of the day to go.
I managed to muddle through, and for a brief moment becoming a politician seemed like a viable career option. Although I was not the only member from LLR to have a moment in the spotlight, James’s would come later.
At the end of the event, after all runners and riders came back safely, there was a mass operation to dismantle the site and head towards the impressive Stadium MK for the speeches and wonderful food.
In the room, there was a litany of high-ranking individuals, not only from the AMYA but also the local council as the Deputy Mayor of Milton Keynes, Brian White was in attendance along with John Cove, the Chief Executive of MK Dons Football Club, with whom the AMYA have established a wonderful working relationship.
Then came James’s speech which was eloquent, heartfelt and encapsulated the work of LLR and highlighted why partnerships with such organisations as the AMYA are so important to the charity. It was all the more remarkable as he was asked to give a speech just a couple of hours before the dinner.
After a very nice meal it was time for James and I to depart and thank the guys at the AMYA for holding such a brilliant event and mention how excited we are to work with them for years to come, as well as lay the foundations for next year’s event.
The Willen Lake Bikeathon was one of the first major events that I worked on at the start of my internship at LLR and to see it all come together first-hand was a great feeling. However, my work pales in comparison to the work carried out by James and the guys at the AMYA and they should feel very proud of the event and know that it was a fantastic event to be in attendance for.