Coronavirus: Man cycling distance of Tour de France in one-bedroom flat to raise money for Big Issue vendors

'Jacob is doing an amazing job on every level and leading by example', says Big Issue boss

Sarah Young
Sunday 05 April 2020 15:56
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Coronavirus: All you need to know about self-isolation

A man is cycling the distance of the Tour De France in his one-bedroom flat to help raise money for Big Issue vendors during the coronavirus lockdown.

Jacob Hill-Gowing aims to complete the 3,500km (2,200 miles) on an exercise bike before the lockdown period is over despite not being a keen cyclist.

The 28-year-old, who works as a senior art director for an advertising agency, is hoping to raise at least £5,000 for the Big Issue Foundation, which supports vendors of the magazine.

Street sales of the magazine were suspended on 22 March to protect the health of its vendors from Covid-19.

Since starting the quest, Mr Hill-Gowing has racked up an impressive 800km by cycling around 50km for two to three hours every evening after work.

“The money from the Big Issue Foundation provides support to vendors financially, which is very much needed at this time,” he said.

“It also provides practical support such as training schemes and programmes and much of the money comes from donations. But the vendors themselves make a living from selling the magazine and that source of income has gone now.”

After noticing that the Big Issue Foundation was asking for support, Mr Hill-Gowing said he dug out his old exercise bike, which had until recently been gathering dust and “used as a clothes horse”.

Mr Hill-Gowing decided to set up a JustGiving page where people can make donations and leave messages of support, both of which he says help keep him motivated.

Jacob Hill-Gowing aims to complete the 3,500km on an exercise bike before the lockdown period is over (SWNS)

“I've planned to do an average of 50km a day and that should see me complete it in 12 weeks, the initial period we were told we would be under lockdown for,” he said.

“It should be completed on 22 May, but I am hoping I can bring it forward if I keep increasing how far I cycle each night. It has been a challenge to keep my head in the right place during self-isolation.

“But the goal is keeping me going, knowing that I can raise money for such a great cause is my motivation.”

So far, Mr Hill-Gowing has raised £3,553 of his £5,000 target with donations pouring in from more than 150 people.

Mr Hill-Gowing has so far raised £3,553 of his £5,000 target (SWNS)

Stephen Robertson, CEO of The Big Issue Foundation, has praised Mr Hill-Gowing for his efforts.

“In these uncertain times we can be certain of one thing — we are learning the values of tomorrow through the hardships of today,” Mr Robertson said.

“Jacob is doing an amazing job on every level and leading by example.

“We all need our friends and our strength right now. I am so glad that Jacob is on side and supporting us.”

Recently, organisers of the Tour de France said the event could still go ahead as planned behind closed doors.

“The economic model of the Tour de France is not based on ticketing but on TV rights,” said Roxana Maracineanu, French minister for youth and sport.

“During this period of confinement, everyone is being very careful and aware. Everyone understands that they have to stay at home, therefore watching television rather than attending any live events.

“As a result, it wouldn’t be too difficult to have to have to watch the Tour on television [rather than from the roadside].”

Mr Hill-Gowing’s daily cycle is broadcast live on Twitch every night at 6.30pm, and can be viewed here.

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