We talk to Phil Brace, the Chief Executive of the Little Princess Trust – the LONDON-PARIS by Tour de France official charity partner, about the trust, why you should cycle for The Little Princess Trust team and how to sign-up.
Can you tell me a bit about the Trust – its history, role and aims?
Like many charities, the trust came about through a tragic loss. The Trust’s founders Wendy and Simon Tarplee’s daughter Hannah passed away though cancer in 2005 and the Little Princess Trust was founded in her memory in 2006.
During Hannah’s treatment she lost her hair and her parents recognised the profound effect that had on her and how hard it was to source suitable child sized wigs and the lack of provision by the NHS. In the first year they provided 36 wigs to children and, in 2020 so far, that number has risen to over 2000. It’s not just about the wigs though as, in 2016, the Little Princess Trust also started funding paediatric cancer research and now is the third largest charity funder of this field in the UK.
So our roles and aims are to provide wigs for children and young people and to fund impactful research. An impactful and innovative focus is very important to us as we want to fund research that has an impact on quality of care, treatment and outcome.
How has COVID-19 impacted on your fundraising?
At the start we saw a real dip and, in April, a drop of 75%. We then recovered by 11% in May and a further 12% in June. Then, in July, when the hairdressing salons re-opened we had a record breaking month both in terms of fundraising and hair donations. We don’t know where the ceiling is for our fundraising but do know that we’ve got to keep on pushing.
How did your relationship with Hotchillee and the LONDON-PARIS by Tour de France ride come about?
I am very fortunate to have completed London-Paris three times in the past. In 2016, along with my wife, son and a big bunch of friends, I rode the Hotchillee event and together we raised over £70,000 for charity. It was just the most fantastic event I’d ever been on.
There are a number of London to Paris rides organised, why did the Little Princess Trust choose Hotchillee?
As I’ve previously said, because of my personal experience of riding it in 2016. In terms of structure, organisation, camaraderie, atmosphere and challenge – it just had everything. It was hard, I wanted it to be, but the euphoria of riding into Paris was just astonishing. I was enamoured with Hotchillee’s organisational skills, just felt that they set the challenge spot on and that’s why the Little Princess Trust has affiliated to them for 2021.
What level of cyclist were you before you tackled London to Paris?
I’m definitely a social cyclist. I try to get out on the bike every week and am probably managing 2-3 times a week at the moment. But I’m definitely not and never will be a serious or competitive cyclist – that said, you can’t help but get a little bit competitive on the event!
I’m not going to pretend that riding London-Paris in three days – many events take four, was easy. I was out of my comfort zone, it was a challenge but that’s how it should be and that’s why rolling into Paris feels so special.
Why should a rider sign-up for the Little Princess team?
The LONDON-PARIS by Tour de France is a key event for us as we rely purely on individual giving so we’ve nothing to fall back on with regards to income. So, if you want to do something amazing, take on an inspirational and iconic challenge, feel an incredible sense of achievement and, by joining The Little Princess Trust team and raising funds for us, have a tangible impact on childhood cancer, sign-up.
What’s the fundraising commitment and what sort of help/support/advice will the Little Princess Trust give to riders to raise it?
We ask for an individual commitment of setting a target of £1000 in sponsorship. Historically with these sort of events we’ve seen that it’s really achievable – far easier than you’d probably believe. We’ll help you out with ideas and support. We’ve got a team of people here who are hand to help out with marketing, social media, promotion and just hand holding all the way through.
All cyclists love kit and the Little Princess Trust has very distinctive colours – will there be team jerseys available?
Yes, it’s very purple and we’ll definitely stand out in the peloton! We’ve gone for predominately purple rather than pink as we feel it’s important to get the message across that the Little Princess Trust goes across genders and that we supply wigs for girls and boys.
Are you going to be donning your lycra and riding again?
Yes, I’m riding, our Chairman Tim Wheeler is riding and our founder Wendy, is threatening to ride! And there’s a few other guys in the office too who are definitely interested.
A lot of our corporate supporters have people signed up, including riders from Sweden and Germany. One of our big partners – who help with provision of wigs have some riders and Professor Pam Kearns – one of the top child oncologists is onboard, some from our official salon – Headmasters in London and we’re trying to get some of our celebrity supporters in the team too – so it’s a great mix, loads of support but we’re looking for lots more.
How do I sign-up and join the Little Princess Trust team?
We’re just about to really start pushing and promoting the event when entries go live on the 22nd September but, at the moment for individual enquiries, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Glen is usually behind the scenes making sure that the Hotchillee Ride Captains and event participants have fully functioning bicycles to ride but he occasionally makes an appearance in front of the camera to share his wisdom. If he’s not fixing or building bikes he’ll be out riding in #SweetSussex. If you want to know anything about Cyclocross, Glen is the man to ask.