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Friends climb back in the pedalo for canal fundraiser for Molly Ollys

Molly Ollys, Grand Union Canal, pedalo

PEDAL power will once again be driving two Warwickshire fundraisers who are preparing to travel ten miles along The Grand Union Canal – in a pedalo!

Friends Alex Pearson from Stratford and Emma Brayne from Warwick are preparing to navigate tunnels and locks as part of their intrepid challenge, in aid of local children’s charity Molly Ollys.

The pair, who will again be joined on their journey by Alex’s canine companions Archie and Chester, are hoping to beat last year’s total of £2,000, including match-funding by The Morrisons Foundation.

The fundraiser will take place on June 15th – a hugely significant date for the charity – the anniversary of eight-year-old Molly Ollerenshaw’s death. This year also marks the tenth anniversary of the charity.

The ladies, who have had the support of Leamington Boats and The Canal River Trust, will be pedalling between The View at Wootton Wawen and Hatton, where Molly’s family live. The end of the challenge will also be marked by a poignant release of 20 butterflies outside Hatton Café.

Molly Ollys,pedalo, Grand Union Canal, charity
Olly The Brave with Rachel Ollerenshaw, Emma Brayne, Alex Pearson, Adam Brayne and David Fletcher and dogs Archie and Chester

Alex, a community champion for Morrisons in Leamington, said: “At the store we really want to support our local charities and when I met Rachel it was emotional to hear Molly’s story. This is a great charity which supports so many children in both our community and around the country.

“Last year’s pedalo challenge was amazing. We just hope the weather is kind to us again this year! We’ll be trying to get in stretches and protein breaks along the way to help keep us going. Our main aim is to raise money and awareness for the charity but have some fun doing it. Last year we had a lot of laughs on the way.”

Collection tins will be in the store and there is the opportunity to find out more about the work of the charity on their stand throughout the week commencing June 20th.

Molly Ollys emotionally supports children between 0 and 18 who have life-threatening illnesses. It does that through its Olly The Brave therapeutic soft toy and award-winning books, as well as donating wishes to children who are facing unimaginable challenges.

Between 2017 and 2020, the charity funded Birmingham’s first paediatric palliative consultant as there was no such consultant for the region. That position has now become permanent and is currently funded through the NHS.

The charity works alongside the NHS to support projects within the hospitals and the community. One key project was the creation and refurbishment of Magnolia House at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. This is a safe and non-clinical space where medical teams and families can have important discussions.

Molly’s mum and the charity’s Founder Rachel Ollerenshaw, said: “This will be a bittersweet day for me as the 15th June is the date Molly passed away 11 years ago.

“Alex and Morrisons Leamington have been such great supporters of ours for the past couple of years and following the success of last year’s pedalo challenge, Alex was keen to offer her fundraising support again. She seems to enjoy putting herself through pain! We are cheering her and Emma on from the sidelines of the towpath.”

Molly Ollys, pedalo, Grand Union Canal, charity
Pedalo group Olly The Brave with David Fletcher, Adam Brayne, Rachel Ollerenshaw, Alex Pearson and Emma Brayne and dogs Archie and Chester

The girls will once again be supported by Alex’s friend David Fletcher and Emma’s husband Adam Brayne who will offer moral support and lock-keeping duties along the route – as well as raising money themselves. Donations for their sponsored 10-mile walk can be made here

Emma said: “Alex’s reputation for being so kind and generous precedes her and she has collaborated on a huge number of charitable events that I have ran. We have become somewhat of a double act!

“This year’s 10-mile course reflects the tenth anniversary of the charity. Half a kilometre of this epic journey involves travelling in complete darkness through Shrewley Tunnel which fills me with complete and utter dread, but I’m sure our strong will and determination will get us through to the light at the end of the tunnel!”

To support Alex and Emma, donations can be made here

Since Molly Ollys started more than £3 million has been raised to emotionally support children across the UK. Anyone wishing to donate can do so here