2019 Mansoor Chaudhry Award for Outstanding Contribution to RoadPeace
The recipient this year is not an individual but a team of people, in recognition of their huge contribution to RoadPeace following the unimaginable loss of two much loved sons, brothers, friends – Niggy (age 21) and Christian Townend (age 29).
In December 2010 the worst thing ever happened when they were struck and killed by a coach driver who was driving inappropriately given the winter conditions.
What followed was not an unfamiliar journey for many RoadPeace members with knowledge that their deaths were entirely preventable and with complications added by the justice system.
We say the worst happened with the crash, but there was further suffering for the Townend family from our justice system. The coach driver was prosecuted for Causing Death by Dangerous Driving. He offered to plead guilty to the lesser charge of Causing Death by Careless Driving but the CPS rightfully refused as his choosing to speed and drive in conditions where he could not see were more than careless. Unfortunately, the jury disagreed and acquitted the driver. So after an extended investigation and prolonged trial, Christian and Niggy, and their devastated family and friends were denied justice.
Thank goodness the community was there to support the Townend family and assure them their losses were not forgotten or accepted.
The year after the crash, in April, family and friends came together in remembrance and celebration and the first Team Townend Pushbike Challenge took place, raising over £17 000 for RoadPeace.
Christian and Niggy were lifelong cyclists and it bothered them when people referred to pushbikes. So of course their brothers, Richy and Robin and friends ensured it was included in the name of the event.
The sportive takes place in Loweswater, the Lake District, in a setting of unbelievable beauty in the shadow of the mighty Mellbreak and near the shores of Crummock Water. It also benefits from being close to Christian and Niggy as both boys are buried in the cemetery down the lane a moment’s walk away. There are 2 routes on offer, one is 22 miles, the other 40 miles, through some of the most scenic and spectacular parts of the Lake District, as well as some of its most challenging roads, including the Whinlatter, Honister and Newlands passes.
Afterwards, an incredible afternoon spread of tea sandwiches and cakes greets the returning riders, baked by the local community. And a raffle entertainingly compared by Robin and Richy adds to funds raised, with prizes donated by local businesses.
The Team Townend Pushbike Challenge, borne out of such a terrible and avoidable tragedy, has now supported RoadPeace for 9 years raising in excess of £60, 000, making a huge and invaluable contribution to RoadPeace.
However its success is about more than this incredible financial contribution. The day is a fitting memorial and an opportunity for family friends and the local community to come together in remembrance of Christian and Niggy.
When the system let down a family so badly, a community came together determined to keep their memory alive.
It’s also a wonderful celebration of cycling, raising awareness about the need for road danger reduction and has undoubtedly raised the profile of RoadPeace in the area.
There are so many people involved: the family, Eleanor, Mike, and brothers Richy and Robin; the race organisers David, Simon, Andy, Chris; the local bakers Janet, Claire, Lami; the event supporters Bikmo, local coffee shops, breweries, The Kirkstile Inn, the raffle contributors –and of course the 300 odd people who take part each year. Too many to mention everyone here.
And over the years the supporter community has grown. Christian and Niggy’s friends have families now and bring their children to share in this day. Reminders of the future that was lost with the crash.
So many people contribute to this event and they are all an inspiration to RoadPeace—staff and members—they have advised other members organising events –but most of all it is the community support that is so inspiring. Any and all are invited to attend the next Team Townend sportive which will take place at the end of April 2020. It will be a special one as it will be the 10th held since Christian and Niggy were killed. Ten years during which over 17000 will have died on our roads, including over 1000 cyclists.
On behalf of everyone at RoadPeace, thank you Team Townend.