30th September 2020 Katharine House

6 months after first committing to her incredible challenge, Gemma Smith has finally been able to complete it following the UK lockdown.

Back in February, Gemma was set a unique challenge, as a joint celebration of her University graduation and a fundraising activity in support of the Bri-Stor Group 2020 charity partner – Katharine House Hospice. The UNI Challenge was set; Gemma would learn how to ride the Unicycle over a three-month period, before completing a 600-meter journey through the Alpha and Bri-Stor factories.

From shaky beginnings, Gemma gradually started to master the Unicycle, practicing at home with friends over a two-month period. By late March she was nearly ready to take on the factory challenge but as the COVID-19 situation developed and the UK lock-down subsequently came into place, plans were put on hold. Following Alpha’s return to work after the lockdown, Gemma dusted off the Unicycle, re-started practicing and was soon ready to take on the challenge again.

This week, the whole of Alpha and Bri-Stor downed tools briefly to support Gemma as she glided gracefully (ish) around the gangways of the respective factories on her red unicycle. Starting at the entrance to Alpha, she travelled through the laser department, passed the CNC folding machines, through the turning & machining area, up a long ramp into Atlas Coating, past the assembly department, up another slight ramp into Bri-Stor and passed row after row of light commercial vehicle conversions, finishing, finally at Bri-Stor prototyping department – 600 meters from where she’d begun and very out of breath.

Speaking shortly after, Gemma described how she felt on completing the incredible feat.

“I was so emotional straight after; it was like a relief. Everybody followed as I went and were all at the finish line applauding and cheering. I’m really proud because at the beginning of practice I couldn’t even get on the Unicycle! Now I just want to get to my fundraising target because it’s such a good local cause. I’m really close and I’ll definitely be chasing people up for promised donations because that was really hard work.”

This is the first of many planned fundraising events that the Bri-Stor Group have been able to complete this year for Katharine House due the events of 2020 so far. However, we’re still committed to supporting the incredible work they do locally providing vital holistic care and support services for people with advanced life-limiting conditions across Staffordshire.

If you’d like to support Gemma and Katharine House, please click below to visit her JustGiving page and make a donation.