Cycle ride in memory of Horsham world adventurers

One Mile Closer team in Washington, at the end of 1,000-mile cycle expedition from Prague in memory of Rob Gauntlett and James Atkinson (Submitted by One Mile Closer)
One Mile Closer team in Washington, at the end of 1,000-mile cycle expedition from Prague in memory of Rob Gauntlett and James Atkinson (Submitted by One Mile Closer)

Two former Christ’s Hospital School pupils, who have raised £85,000 in memory of their friend and brother, hope to break the £1m mark with their next venture this year.

Over the past five years Tim Gauntlett and James Hooper have put on cycle rides across Europe in memory of Tim’s brother Rob and mutual friend James Atkinson, who also went to Christ’s Hospital.

Now they are organising their first event outside Europe - a 1,000km cycle ride in South Korea.

Tim said: “My brother passed away in a climbing accident in Chamonix in 2009, aged 21, along with his good friend James Atkinson.

“I lost my brother and Hooper lost his exploring and business partner, but we did not lose our ambition.

“Since 2009, we have coordinated three cycle rides each with over 30 cyclists of mixed abilities - 2009 John O’Groats to Lands End, 2012 Provence to Petworth and 2014 Pedal Home from Prague. All under the banner of OneMileCloser.

“In all, we have raised over £85,000 for a school in Uganda, which has taken it from no buildings at all to over 600 pupils, three large classrooms, boarding accommodation and teachers houses. Nalango Secondary School is now a protégé for other schools in the area to aspire to.”

This year they hope to raise £25,000 with 50 cyclists doing the 1,000km tour in Korea.

After going there to study geography, James Hooper appeared on a prime-time television chat show and became a local celebrity as a result.

As a result, the cycle ride is expected to be a national event.

Rob Gauntlett who died in the Alps pictured on the summit of Mount Everest holding a picture of himself with girlfriend Lucinda Hutchins, 21 -  Handout/PA Wire

Rob Gauntlett who died in the Alps pictured on the summit of Mount Everest holding a picture of himself with girlfriend Lucinda Hutchins, 21 - Handout/PA Wire

They will start in the south and follow the east coast to Taebaek finishing on Mount Namsan in Seoul eight days later.

And it will all be in memory of two people who inspired hundreds of young people to fulfil their dreams.

Aged just 19, Rob became the youngest Briton to climb Mount Everest with close friend and fellow Christ’s Hospital School pupil James Hooper in 2006.

Two years later Rob was named National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year for the pair’s ‘Pole to Pole Manpowered’ expedition.

James Atkinson and Rob Gauntlett - former Christ's Hospital School pupils who died scaling Mont Blanc

James Atkinson and Rob Gauntlett - former Christ's Hospital School pupils who died scaling Mont Blanc

They were first people to travel from the North Pole to the South Pole by skiing, cycling and sailing. They were featured in an Adidas commercial, a YouTube clip of which can be seen on this page.

But Rob’s amazing human endeavours came to a dramatic end when he died while scaling Mont Blanc in 2009 with friend James Atkinson.

Friends and family have raised money in their memory for a range of charities ever since. Due to their connection with Christ’s Hospital School, money was also raised for the James Atkinson Bequest, which enables pupils there to undertake outdoor trips such as Duke of Edinburgh expeditions.

Tim said: “In Rob’s short life he was an adventurer and explorer, but to make it a financial success he was going to schools talking to young people and motivating them and inspiring them to aim high and go for what they wanted to do.

“He said everyone has their own Everest and you have to find your Everest and push to achieve it. When he achieved that at 19 he then took it upon himself to inspire others.

“The money raised (for the school) has had such an amazing result in such a poor area.

“It’s a visible achievement we have got there and a very lasting memorial.

“We have taken the school to critical limit. In Uganda there’s funding for education but no funding for facilities.

“They have a pupil premium so if you’ve got 600 pupils you will get paid for each pupil. Having supported the school we have secured government funding for it.

“That funds the cost of the teaching. They still need funding for desks, computers - things we take for granted. Ideally we would like to add a couple more classrooms.

“I’m confident because we see every penny we have raised go into that school.”

To sponsor this year’s event go to www.justgiving.com/teams/OneMileCloser2015

To read more about the OneMileCloser story so far go to onemilecloser.org