Belfast Telegraph

Antrim teen who beat leukaemia teams up with One Show's Matt Baker to raise money for Children In Need

Adelle with One Show presenter Matt Baker.
Adelle with One Show presenter Matt Baker.

By Gillian Halliday

A Co Antrim teenager who has recovered from an aggressive form of leukaemia — which took the life of her best friend — is preparing to travel 400 miles in a rickshaw for Children In Need.

Adelle Keown (17) from Newtownabbey is part of a team of six young people, led by The One Show presenter Matt Baker, which will make a journey across Wales and England in the pulled passenger cycle cart.

The Hazelwood Integrated student was unveiled as one of the participants on Wednesday night’s live show.

The Rickshaw Challenge, now in its ninth year, helps raise funds for Children in Need.

Over the course of eight days, starting on November 8, Adelle will be taking it in turns to peddle the rickshaw from Holyhead to the finish line at BBC Elstree Studios in London.

The arrival has been timed to coincide with the annual Children In Need showpiece, which this year airs on November 15.

This time last year, however, Adelle was facing a challenge of a very different kind, one which was life-threatening.

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Last October she had undergone a bone marrow stem cell transplant after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.

The same blood cancer had claimed Adelle’s best friend, Victoria, who died in November 2017. Several months later Adele would receive the shocking news that she too, had that form of leukaemia.

Following chemotherapy, which was initially successful, Adelle’s health began to deteriorate and at one stage her doctors even considered palliative care.

Adelle with the Rickshaw Team on the One Show.
Adelle with the Rickshaw Team on the One Show.

Throughout her diagnosis and treatment, Adelle had been supported by Cancer Fund Northern Ireland, which has received funding from Children in Need to deliver residential sessions for young people affected by cancer.

And now Adelle wants to help give something back through the annual charity fundraising drive.

“Having cancer has taught me not to take life for granted and has really put things into perspective for me,” she said.

“I think being a part of Team Rickshaw will be a real challenge for me but I’m looking forward to getting on the road, sharing my story and helping to raise money for BBC Children in Need that will go on to make a difference to other young people’s lives.”

Her participation has been praised by Baker, who hailed the teenager as “truly inspirational”.

“I can’t believe that in just a few weeks’ time we’ll be heading back on the road again for the ninth year of the Rickshaw Challenge,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to seeing all those friendly faces who will be cheering us on from the roadside, as we battle the elements and complete the 400-mile journey from Wales to Elstree.”

This year’s route will see Adelle and her fellow team tackle the highest village in the UK, Flash, which lies 1,519 ft above sea level in the Peak District, and the steepest street in the world in Harlech, Wales.

Since 2011, The One Show’s Rickshaw Challenge has raised over £25m for Children in Need, with donations going on to make a difference to the lives of children and young people across the UK who need it most.

Adelle will be hoping The One Show viewers will again donate generously next month to ensure charities like Cancer Fund for Children can continue to help young people like her.

With its Children In Need grant, the organisation - which operates its therapeutic Daisy Lodge in Newcastle for families affected by cancer - offers residential programmes to young people aged between 12 and 17.

The programme enables young people to take part in activities that they wouldn’t normally get chance to due to their illness, such as outdoor activities like canoeing or hillwalking, art and music workshops.

Children in Need supporters will be able to follow Adelle and Team Rickshaw’s progress in real time by logging on to: bbc.co.uk/Pudsey.

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