Mon, 02 Nov 2020
A KENNET School pupil has raised more than £3,000 for a charity close to his heart.
Thom Read organised and completed a 20-mile sponsored bike ride around Greenham Common and surrounding areas in September.
He set off with the aim of raising a modest £250 for Tourette’s Action, but he said he was “truly amazed” after donations hit £2,715.00 (£3,281.53 with Gift Aid), including a £1,000 mystery donation which was made following a Newbury Weekly News report.
Thom, who is in Year 9, has Tourette’s syndrome, which causes people to make involuntary sounds and movements called tics.
These vary from blinking and grunting, to saying random words, phrases and swearing.
Thom said: “I feel that we have gone over and above the amount of money we intended to raise for Tourette’s Action.
“We aimed for £250 and finished with an outstanding £3,200.
“The amount of support both through donations and on the cycle itself was immense. It was truly amazing to see just how many people came together to support a charity that means so much to me.”
Thom said that he chosen the charity to raise awareness of Tourette’s syndrome.
He said: “Tourette’s Action is so important to me as Tourette’s is a genetic syndrome which runs in my family and it’s a syndrome that does affect me.
“It makes me do and say things that I am unable to control and it’s so important to raise awareness of this as many still don’t know what Tourette’s is and it’s so misunderstood.
“Tourette’s is known for just being uncontrollable swearing, however this is simply an unfair stereotype that people use to pretend they know what the syndrome is, when in fact swearing is only a very small part of having Tourette’s Syndrome.
“Most of it is physical tics, like twitching and head nodding.
“However, there are tics that happen in your head which are totally invisible to the naked eye. It’s so important to understand Tourette’s and not to stereotype people with it, that’s why the charity is so important to me.”
Thom and his friends Oliver Craigie, Megan Dempsie, Lottie Carpenter and Jason Martin completed the ride before the rule of six coronavirus guidance came into force last month. Several parents rode along in support.
Friends and neighbours turned out to cheer on and congratulate the riders at the finish line at Thatcham Town Football Club. They were presented with certificates and goody bags, including homemade cakes and treats.
Thom said: “The ride was amazing and a special thanks to Kate Dempsie for planning the route, it was so fun and everyone worked so hard. I’m so happy that we managed to do the ride before the rule of six as it really wouldn’t have felt the same without everyone there riding together.”
Thom said he was not planning any further fundraisers for the charity at this stage because of Covid-19 restrictions but would consider another event when safe to do so.
His parents Jamie and Helen said: “We are immensely proud of Thom for setting this whole event up himself, but also of all of the young people who rode and helped to raise the sponsorship, Thom, Oliver Craigie, Megan Dempsie, Lottie Carpenter and Jason Martin.
“We would also like to thank everyone who turned out to cheer the along the route, and of course everyone who sponsored the ride, especially a shout out for the mystery donor who gave £1,000 after the last NWN article.
“We have no idea who it was, but heartfelt thanks for your amazing support.”