Melton produces biggest ever crowd for live TV Rickshaw Challenge event

Matt Baker and team members pose for the cameras after completing leg six from Matlock Bath to Melton EMN-191114-111808001
Matt Baker and team members pose for the cameras after completing leg six from Matlock Bath to Melton EMN-191114-111808001
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It felt like a special night in Melton Mowbray.

A massed crowd packing virtually the entire length of Nottingham Street on a chilly, but mercifully dry, Wednesday evening.

Crowds in Nottingham Street to watch Team Rickshaw arrive EMN-191114-111904001

Crowds in Nottingham Street to watch Team Rickshaw arrive EMN-191114-111904001

Families, pensioners, couples and work colleagues excitedly awaiting the arrival of the Rickshaw Challenge team - a team of six brave youngsters who were finishing leg six of an epic 400-mile pedal in aid of the Children In Need charity.

The lights and cameras were primed to broadcast the event live to the nation on BBCs’s The One Show.

A spine-tingling roar went up as the programme’s distinctive theme tune rang out on loud speakers.

Bizarrely, those of us present could hear the show going out from its London studio more than 100 miles away but we couldn’t see any pictures.

A youngster dressed as Pudsey Bear enjoys the Rickshaw Challenge event in Melton EMN-191114-111757001

A youngster dressed as Pudsey Bear enjoys the Rickshaw Challenge event in Melton EMN-191114-111757001

The rickshaw arrived around the corner in High Street to distant cheers and then Matt Baker - long time presenter of The One Show and the man who pedals every mile along the route - arrived to warn everyone that we were about to go live.

He looked genuinely surprised by the number of people who had come out to support the challenge, which has been running annually since 2011.

Something Matt referred to afterwards when he told me: “Tonight has been the biggest turnout we’ve had at a daily finish line.

“To see everyone in Melton Mowbray out in support, despite the freezing temperatures, was just super.

Matt Baker presents live on air to The One Show from Nottingham Street in Melton EMN-191114-111734001

Matt Baker presents live on air to The One Show from Nottingham Street in Melton EMN-191114-111734001

“It really does give myself and Team Rickshaw the motivation to keep pedaling.”

Matt’s professionalism as a broadcaster was there for all to see but it was clear that his main priority was making sure the six youngsters taking part were comfortable after another long day in the saddle.

Some of their individual stories were told in film clips throughout the programme and moved many onlookers, as well as the millions watching live on the telly.

Like 18-year-old Emma, who had ridden the rickshaw through her home city of Nottingham en route to Melton.

Staff from Melton's Dickinson and Morris Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe show off the latest fundraising total for Children In Need from the Rickshaw Challenge EMN-191114-111830001

Staff from Melton's Dickinson and Morris Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe show off the latest fundraising total for Children In Need from the Rickshaw Challenge EMN-191114-111830001

Two years ago a seizure left her unable to walk or see properly and this came after she had two liver transplants before the age of four.

Emma, who has represented Team GB as a swimmer in the World Transplant Games, is now recovering.

Back in The One Show studio, guests Marvin and Rochelle Humes and actor Rafe Spall, chatted about their latest TV projects and marvelled at the bravery of the youngsters on Team Rickshaw.

When the live broadcast from Melton returned it was the turn of Melton Scouts to be in the spotlight and a special film message was broadcast by Bear Grylls, who praised the efforts of Rickshaw member Josh (17), a keen Scout member and who is a carer despite having a rare learning disorder.

Adelle (17), from Belfast, who survived the same form of cancer which killed her best friend, then rode the rickshaw down Nottingham Street to great applause before being greeted, as a surprise, by family members including her mum.

Staff from Melton’s iconic Dickinson and Morris Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe, led by managing director Stephen Hallam, presented pork pies to the team although strict BBC advertising rules meant the distinctive wrapping had to be taken off first.

Rotarian Ian Neale collects for Children In Need during the live broadcast in Melton EMN-191114-111841001

Rotarian Ian Neale collects for Children In Need during the live broadcast in Melton EMN-191114-111841001

They then revealed the latest fundraising figure from the challenge with the numbers written on the crusts of pies - a remarkable total of almost £2million.

During the course of the night we also learned about the challenges faced by other members of Team Rickshaw, such as 20-year-old Uche, from London, who suffered mental as well as physical scars after being stabbed, and Thomas (17), from Swindon, who has been bullied throughout his young life while coping with having cerebral palsy, autism and ADHD.

Kelsey, a 17-year-old Watford, the sixth member of the team, has been blind since the age of five after being diagnosed with two bouts of cancer.

Their stories clearly had a big impact on those watching on in Melton with the vast majority staying until the end of the hour-long show despite the cold.

The Rickshaw team finally dispersed, tired, cold and very hungry for overnight stays in a variety of Melton hotels.

They had an early start this morning (Thursday) - setting off around 6.45am from Burton Lazars and pedalling along the hills and bends of the A606 to Langham, en route to the next finish at Bedford.

The final leg tomorrow will see the Rickshaw Challenge team travel to the BBC Elstree studios in Hertfordshire to coincide with the live Children In Need show.

To pledge money for the cause go online at www.donate.bbcchildreninneed.co.uk or text 70405 (to donate £5), 70410 (£10), 70420 (£20) or 70430 (£30).

Team Rickshaw member Adelle (17), from Belfast, who survived cancer, rides the rickshaw along Nottingham Street live on The One Show EMN-191114-111746001

Team Rickshaw member Adelle (17), from Belfast, who survived cancer, rides the rickshaw along Nottingham Street live on The One Show EMN-191114-111746001

The One Show TV cameras prepare to broadcast live to the nation from Melton EMN-191114-111723001

The One Show TV cameras prepare to broadcast live to the nation from Melton EMN-191114-111723001

The One Show set in place for the live broadcast EMN-191114-111819001

The One Show set in place for the live broadcast EMN-191114-111819001

Matt Baker and Team Rickshaw arrive in Langham EMN-191114-111712001

Matt Baker and Team Rickshaw arrive in Langham EMN-191114-111712001

Crowds wait in Langham to greet Team Rickshaw EMN-191114-111916001

Crowds wait in Langham to greet Team Rickshaw EMN-191114-111916001