A British boy’s fighting spirit brought over 150 Kolkatans out of bed and on to their cycles on the morning of February 19. Cancer survivor Luke Grenfell-Shaw, 28, stopped by the city in his Bristol2Beijing cycling expedition, after having covered over 20,000 km across 28 countries on his trusty pink two-person bike called Chris.
Since January 1, 2020, Luke has been cycling from Bristol to Beijing to raise 300,000 pounds for charity, besides encouraging people with cancer to live a life of happiness and fulfilment (‘CanLivers’). The British Deputy High Commission Kolkata and the New Town Kolkata Development Authority joined hands with Kolkata-based pedalling group, Cycle Network Grow, to ensure that Luke not only received an overwhelming welcome to the city, but also got dozens of cyclists to ride along with.
Luke poses by the Biswa Bangla GateCourtesy: British Deputy High Commission Kolkata
This idea came to fruition in the form of Cyclothon 2022, which saw the city’s cycling community gather at Biswa Bangla Gate on Saturday and ride their bicycles with Luke on a 10-km stretch to support his cause.
What particularly inspired cyclists was Luke’s emotional journey, which started in 2018 when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. While still recovering from his first round of chemotherapy, he lost his brother John to an accident. He decided to fulfil his dream of cycling around the world in his brother’s memory.
Luke at the Khunjerab Pass in Pakistan@bristol2beijing/Instagram
“My dad made me realise then that even if I have three months to live, I do have a choice over how to live those months. There’s a huge benefit of knowing that you’re doing everything you can to help yourself. Now, I try everyday to make the most of the time that I have, and I want the same from you,” smiled Luke.
He also urged the cyclists present to get more people into cycling and leading an active life. “This morning, I saw cyclist after daily cyclist passing me and it is incredible to see so many people come together this morning to join me. The curiosity and warmth I have received in Kolkata is characteristic of what I have received across India,” he said.
Nick Low, British Deputy High Commissioner to Kolkata, with LukeCourtesy: British Deputy High Commission Kolkata
“I cannot imagine doing this at 6.30 in the morning in my own country! It’s incredible to be in Kolkata’s perfect cycling space and I don’t think Luke could have received a warmer and more generous reception anywhere else. I took Luke to Eden Gardens yesterday and it is clear from his vision why he has achieved what he has. Getting to Beijing isn’t easy, but I am confident that he is going to make it,” said Nick Low, British Deputy High Commissioner to Kolkata.
You can read more about Luke’s journey and donate to his cause at www.bristol2beijing.org.