The countdown is on to a fundraiser’s huge 24-hour cycling challenge in aid of our unique performing arts centre appeal to support young people with complex autism.

Mark Bailey, our Director of Operations, will be cycling for 24 hours from 4pm on Wednesday, 6 March to fundraise for our performing arts centre appeal.

Mark will be cycling for 24 hours on a tricycle around Prior’s Court’s 0.6km circular track. Mark is using a tricycle as it is one of the preferred modes of transport for many of the young people the charity provides residential care and education services for.

Training has been ongoing for the past three months to get Mark ready for this challenge, in which he expects to cover a distance of around 140 miles. His training has featured activities on-site to get as many young people at Prior’s Court involved as possible, including a hide-and-seek challenge and a cycling-based treasure hunt.

To make the challenge that little bit harder, Mark’s bi-hourly breaks won’t just be for rest and taking on food and fluid – he will be having a mini-task to complete based on the performing arts. For example, learning to be a DJ.

Mark's aim with the “On your MARKs, get set, go!” challenge is to raise £10,000 for the Let Me Shine Performing Arts Centre fundraising appeal, as he is one of the leads for the project.

Mark said:

This challenge looks a lot closer this side of Christmas, that’s for sure. And being told that I’m likely to be travelling the equivalent of Prior’s Court to Dover/Exeter was also quite an eye-opening fact! But where the building works are happening for the performing arts centre will be within my sight for much of my many trips around the track and that will keep me focused and determined. Building work has begun on the arts centre but we still have an ongoing fundraising appeal with this challenge a part of that.

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Building work is under way on the Let Me Shine Performing Arts Centre which, once complete, will feature adapted facilities to support young people with complex autism to access opportunities in music, dance and drama and the life-enriching benefits this provides. It is believed to be the first centre of its type in the country to be built specifically to meet the needs of autistic people with complex needs.

Individuals with autism face many barriers to accessing the arts – from light and noise sensitivities to understanding of social rules – and one aim of the centre is to mimic theatre environments to prepare young people to access arts venues in the community successfully. This is in addition to having the opportunity day-to-day to express themselves creatively in a dedicated, bespoke space.

Find out more about the appeal