Raising more than pennies and farthings for Jigsaw

Left to right: Angela Melville-Rae (Neil's wife), Mickey (Jigsaw pupil), Neil Melville-Rae, Henry (Jigsaw pupil), Jack (Jigsaw pupil) and Hanna Sharp (Jigsaw School teacher).
Left to right: Angela Melville-Rae (Neil's wife), Mickey (Jigsaw pupil), Neil Melville-Rae, Henry (Jigsaw pupil), Jack (Jigsaw pupil) and Hanna Sharp (Jigsaw School teacher).

Pupils at a local school for children with autism received a welcome surprise recently when one of their supporters made an unexpected visit - on a penny farthing!

Ahead of cycling and kayaking from Marble Arch in London to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Neil Melville-Rae called in at Jigsaw CABAS® School near Cranleigh to meet pupils and give them the opportunity to have a ride on his penny farthing.

Jigsaw is a specialist day school committed to educating children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Based on Dunsfold Park, it is one of only around 10 schools in the UK to use Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) as its teaching methodology.

It exists to improve the lives of children and families affected by autism through education, training and research. Also on Dunsfold Park is Jigsaw+, a day service for adults with autism.

Neil Melville-Rae, a member and sponsor of The Penny Farthing Club, sets off on Monday July 18, the day after competing in the prestigious Penny Farthing Polo World Cup at Cowdray.

Explaining how he mastered the penny farthing, Neil said, “Anybody that can ride a pushbike will – with a little bit of tuition – be quite proficient on a penny farthing.”.

Neil is no stranger to extreme challenges having already undertaken an Ironman triathlon and La Classicissima – the world’s longest one-day cycling race, 185 miles from Milan to Sanremo.

He also got a podium place in the recent 16 minute Penny Farthing Race around the town centre circuit at The Wallingford Festival of Cycling.

His latest adventure will see him cycling the land sections of his journey by penny farthing and crossing the English Channel by a kayak which was kindly loaned by Fluid Adventures in Chichester.

When asked why he was taking on this rather unusual challenge, Neil explained: “I just thought it would be quite a fun thing to do. I don’t think anybody’s ever done it before, so I knew it would attract some attention to raise money for Jigsaw.”. Neil’s fundraising efforts have already raised more than £2,000 for Jigsaw.

Learning about Neil’s plans, Jigsaw’s Events & Community Fundraiser, Yvette Copping, said, “We have had supporters take on some rather extreme challenges for us over the years, but this has to be a first!

“When Neil told us about his plans we were all so incredibly impressed. We are particularly grateful to him for taking the time out of his busy schedule to spend the afternoon with our pupils, talking to them about his penny farthing and even letting them have a ride on it.

“We will all be tracking Neil’s progress with great interest and look forward to hearing all about it.”.

For more information and to sponsor Neil on his ‘Arch to Arc’ adventure go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/PennyFarthing LondonToParis