North East Connected

TV presenter prepares to get on his bike to support children’s charity

One of the faces of North East TV is helping an international children’s charity by taking on an ambitious cycling challenge in Africa later this year.  Jeff Brown, who presents Look North on BBC1, has signed up for the Victoria Cycle Challenge, an initiative being run by North East based international children’s charity COCO.  Jeff will get on the saddle alongside athletics legend Steve Cram and other COCO supporters, to cycle across parts of Kenya.  The charity hopes that the challenge will raise thousands of pounds to support its work to boost educational opportunities for young people in East Africa.

COCO was co-founded by Steve Cram and British Army Major Jim Panton in 2000.  The charity works with communities in remote regions of the developing world to alleviate the poverty that prevents children’s education.  COCO focuses on small, sustainable, community led initiatives that can make a big difference at a local level, and has raised and invested over £4m since its foundation.  The charity has now supported 50 transformational projects in 16 countries, positively impacting the lives of over 200,000 people.

Between 26 October and 2 November, twelve cyclists will take on the 284km Victoria Cycle Challenge.  During the ride the group will cover diverse landscapes, climbing a total height of 3,640m in the African heat.  In the early stages they will travel through areas of Maasailand that are rich in wildlife, moving into lush, green Luoland and finishing on the shores of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake.  This is the second year that participants will take on this particular route, which was developed following the success of COCO’s previous Maasai Cycle Challenge.

During their time in Kenya, Jeff Brown and Steve Cram will also join their fellow cyclists in visiting COCO School for Life Mercy Primary, where they will meet some of the young people who have benefited from the charity’s work.  COCO’s Schools for Life programme helps children to access sustainable education in a safe environment and covers six key elements: shelterpower; water and sanitation; foodsports and recreation; and entrepreneurship.

Steve Cram comments:

“Once again COCO’s Kenyan cycle challenge is set to be an unforgettable adventure.  This is the first time I’ve taken on the new route, but having completed the Maasai Cycle Challenge several times previously, I can assure all would-be participants that they will experience amazing landscapes, people, wildlife and culture during the ride.  What will be most rewarding is that at the end of the challenge, we will have the opportunity to visit Mercy Primary and meet some of the fantastic children who are benefiting from COCO’s work.  The cycle challenge will raise valuable funds to sustain what we’ve achieved already and to extend COCO’s impact among other communities in need.

“Jeff is a long-term friend and supporter of COCO, so I am delighted that we have persuaded him to join us for this year’s challenge.  Fellow cyclists will be guaranteed some great company and no-doubt a sporting anecdote or two!”

Jeff Brown, who last November hosted the charity’s annual fundraising ball, adds:

“COCO does fantastic work to support young people in East Africa and help them access the education that every child deserves.  I thought that it was about time that I stepped out of my comfort zone in the studio to raise some funds the hard way and I’m looking forward to getting on my bike to join Steve and the rest of the group later this year!”

Anyone who is interested in joining Steve and Jeff on the Victoria Cycle Challenge should contact or call 0191 261 7427. For further information about the challenge, COCO’s work or to donate visit, find the charity on Facebook or follow @COCO_Charity on Twitter. 


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