Quest for Education: Retired teacher Nick O'Sullivan raises thousands for some of world's poorest schoolchildren
A retired geography teacher from Bishop's Stortford has raised almost £5,000 for a charity that helps improve education for some of the world's poorest communities.
Nick O'Sullivan, 62, cycled 60 miles from London to Cambridge for Quest for Education, of which he is a trustee, completing the challenge with his daughter, Rebecca, 32, and friend Duncan Corp, 70, on Sunday May 29.
Every penny he has raised will go directly to schools in Kashmir, Pakistan, set up by the charity to help under-privileged youngsters.
Nick, of Nursery Road, said: "The aim of the charity is to provide a world-class education for some of the poorest children in rural areas of Kashmir. The schools have a particular focus on providing at least 51% of the places available per year group to girls, to ensure they're given every opportunity to get a good education and improve their life chances.
"This region has been badly affected by terrorist groups, some of whom don't value girls' education and have undertaken the radicalisation of the rural poor. Given the precarious political situation in the area at the moment, it's imperative to provide children of both genders with a high-class education.
"Many of the students have gone on to study at prestigious universities both within Pakistan and worldwide. It's about breaking the cycle of poverty."
He said the bike ride, which set off from West Ham FC's stadium in east London, was supported by his fellow trustees, who waved the group off, kept them fed and watered along the way and then greeted them in Cambridge.
"The bike ride was a tremendous success. We departed from the Olympic Park in Stratford after an inspirational speech from the charity’s founder. We left London, travelled through the Hertfordshire and Essex countryside before finally arriving at Cambridge central mosque. Here we received an extremely warm welcome and enjoyed a wonderful traditional Pakistani meal, whilst reflecting on the important work of the charity.
"It was a wonderful experience. It was tremendously beautiful in the mosque – I even met one of my ex-students!"
He added: "I'm really satisfied with what we've done. It was a challenge, but we felt a great sense of achievement that we've done something worthwhile, for a good cause, and I'm very thankful to everybody who supported us."
Nick used to teach at schools in Barking and Ilford in east London. He was head of department and assistant head teacher at Valentines High School in Ilford before retiring.
It was during his time as a teacher that he was asked to come on board with the charity in an advisory capacity as a trustee. He said he hoped his feat would help raise awareness of Quest for Education and its work.