An eight-year-old boy has embarked on a 1,100-mile cycle across the UK to raise money for his favourite animal, the hedgehog.
Harry Peksa and his father, Nick Peksa, are four days in to the challenge which will see them ride from Land’s End, Cornwall to John O’Groats, Scotland in just over 30 days.
Harry, from Winnersh in Wokingham, has garnered online support for his love of hedgehogs and has raised over £1,800 so far for Tiggywinkles, The Wildlife Hospital Trust.
“I really love hedgehogs,” Harry, whose love of the animal has stemmed from keeping a keen eye on the creatures that wander into their garden, told the PA news agency.
“And we did a challenge two years ago that was also for Tiggywinkles and I thought, ‘Why not do it for the same charity?'”
Harry and Mr Peksa, 45, completed a 100-mile cycle in the Summer of 2020 when he was a beaver scout.
“All of the other beavers, for their personal challenge, they were going, ‘I’m gonna brush my teeth every day, I’m going to make my bed,’ and Harry put his finger in the air and said, ‘I’m going to cycle 100 miles’ without having any concept of what 100 miles was,” Mr Peksa said.
“So we cycled from Winnersh through to the Forest of Dean and it took us five days and he enjoyed it.”
Mr Peksa has also already completed the trip from Land’s End to John O’Groats last year.
This time around, he is joined again by Harry as the pair average 30-40 miles of cycling a day over a 34-day period – which Harry says gets tough on the hills.
“(My favourite bit) was probably the two and a half mile (going) downhill,” he said.
“But also, you go a mile flat and then (you are) straight up again!”
Having set off on Wednesday, the two are stopping at local hotels and restaurants along the way, allowing Harry to begin a formal ranking of the chips he eats.
“I’ll tell you how the ranking works – A is best and F is worst,” the hedgehog-lover explained.
“We’ve had one chips that were ranked E.
“But we had some triple fried chips (in Washaway, Cornwall) – they were an A.”
The challenge has also enabled Harry to figure out the perfect format for a bacon cheeseburger.
“It goes, bun, bacon, patty, cheese, bun, but all the restaurants do bun, patty, bacon, cheese, bun,” he said.
“It is funny because when he orders, he makes a note of how they should make it,” Mr Peksa added.
Mr Peksa said the support Harry has received online, as the two have documented their journey on Facebook, is “fantastic”.
“It’s absolutely fantastic, I’m really surprised by the reaction of people,” he said.
“And everybody’s really amazed to hear that he’s eight.
“And people in the streets as well – we’ve been given £65 in cash as well, literally (people) saying, ‘Oh, I love hedgehogs too. Here’s £10.'”
Mr Peksa said his son’s appreciation for the hedgehog comes from “an accumulation of things”, adding that the fundraiser will do a lot for the creatures at Tiggywinkles.
“He had this little cuddly toy called Hedgy, and then we had hedgehogs in the garden and grandma bought him a few more hedgehogs,” he said.
“It’s not just the hedgehogs at Tiggywinkles… people also bring in deers, birds, any British wildlife that gets hurt on the road.
“And that kind of money, there are a lot of hedgehogs that are permanently there through injuries, will help look after the animals.”
The two hope to conclude the challenge on August 23 after around 1,178 miles of cycling, which Mr Peksa has admitted is “strenuous”.
They are stopping along the way to enjoy the scenery and make the most of local activities, such as playing crazy golf and rolling hydration tablets down steep hills to see who could get them the furthest.
“And every time we pass a play park he says, ‘daddy, daddy, stop, stop, stop. We need to go down the slide’.”
To find out more about Harry’s hedgehog fundraiser, go to: www.justgiving.com/hedgyharry