University Staff Face Toughest Challenge Yet in Memory of Former Student


The 100 Miles for Joel challenge will see them taking to the roads, countryside and water around the county in a variety of physical challenges over a 24-hour period which organisers believe will push them to the limit.

They will be raising funds for SmileForJoel, a registered charity set up by the mother and brother of Joel Richards, a University of Worcester student who, aged just 19, was among those tragically murdered in the Tunisia terror attack in 2015, along with his uncle, Adrian Evans, and grandfather, Pat Evans.

Joel's brother Owen Richards, 18, a first year Sports Studies'student at Worcester, said: "It's amazing; just the task itself, physically and mentally. It gives a real message of how much SmileForJoel means to people here that they want to put their bodies and minds through all of that. It's inspiring for us that they're willing to do all that in Joel's memory and that of Ade and my grandad.

"Joel loved sport and anyone that knew him would know that it's exactly the kind of thing he would have got involved in. Obviously he's not here to do it and that's heartbreaking for us as a family."

The challenge, which runs Friday, June 8 into Saturday, June 9, includes a 25-mile walk overnight, a 51-mile cycle, a 14-mile canoe on the River Severn, a 10-mile run and a 300m outdoor swim, as well as a basketball challenge, archery and a tractor pull.

Teams, supported by more than 30 staff and student volunteers, including those at the University's Lakeside campus, will be competing to see who can complete the challenge in the shortest time and there will be time penalties for not finishing an event.

The challenge, taking place at University of Worcester venues, but also on routes around Worcestershire and Shropshire, was designed to reflect Physical Education and Sports Coaching Science student Joel's interest in numerous sports.

"We wanted to do a challenge that covered some of Joel's sporting activities and the learning he was doing here," said organiser Tom Taylor, the University's Assistant Director - Security and Operations. "Sport was what Joel was involved in, that was his passion, so it seemed fitting. I think the cause is a big one for those involved. It is a good cause and people recognise the link to Joel. It's also an opportunity to get a team together and do something positive."

There will be teams from a number of different departments within the University, as well as a team from the University's Seniors Programme " members of the public aged 60 or above whom attend adapted fitness sessions " and Quanta, a training company with whom the University works.

In previous University charity challenges, staff walked a gruelling four-day 85-mile trek along Hadrian's Wall in 2016 and in 2014 took on the Three Peaks Challenge, climbing the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales in 24 hours.

But Mr Taylor, who previously served 24 years in the army, says this challenge will present new difficulties.

"Hadrian's Wall was more to do with endurance, the Three Peaks is fitness and sleep deprivation," he added. "This is the most challenging as it's a combination of all three " they need to be fit and have endurance, but they also need to be able to stay awake. It's hard enough doing this as it is let alone with potentially no sleep for 36 hours. That will be a big challenge."

To sponsor the University's team visit the fundraising page.

To find out more about SmileForJoel or how to help visit