The Big Push - Meet The Team

The Big Push Team

Get to know the girls who have challenged themselves to a 24 hour cycling challenge to help restore Clumber Park’s Ornamental Bridge.

You may have heard about The Big Push cycling challenge four members of the Clumber Park team are going to be undertaking, but not a lot about the girls doing it.

Torri, Claire, Sara and Kate all relatively new to Clumber Park wanted to do something different to help raise awareness and money for the Ornamental Bridge restoration.

Different it might be and daunting another, as these four are definitely not seasoned cyclists with some not even riding a bike in the last five years. This is definitely an example of pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and one we can all take note of - and perhaps follow in their footsteps.

The Ornamental Bridge at Clumber Park before an incident of vandalism
Clumber Bridge
The Ornamental Bridge at Clumber Park before an incident of vandalism

Clumber Park has a wealth of fascinating stories, not just from the Dukes of Newcastle who once called this place home, but from all the people who have worked towards keeping Clumber Park special forever, for everyone.

Perhaps in the next 100 years we’ll still be talking about The Big Push and Torri, Claire, Sara and Kate who undertook this challenge and posed the question - 'what could you do?

We’d therefore like to introduce the girls to you all so you can be part of their journey towards the 27 April 2019 when the challenge begins!

Meet The Team:

Torri Crapper
Torri Crapper
Torri Crapper

“When the bridge was vandalised in March 2018 I didn’t work at Clumber Park. Clumber Park was however, my local property, the place I went after a busy week at work to relax, to walk a borrowed dog or just spend time outdoors sat under a tree with a book, or sauntering the outer areas away from the hustle and bustle of life, it was, and still remains my escape.

The Ornamental Bridge is my access to the spaces I love the most in the park. Standing on the bridge the day after, I didn’t know what to think. I was devastated that the place I love had been violated in such a way, that purposeful actions had destroyed something which had stood allowing access to the opposite sides of the River Poulter. Like so many people, I felt a deep sense of frustration and loss.

A few months later, I started work again at Clumber Park and I wanted to do something to support the restoration but didn’t know what. Over a coffee with my new team, I was talking about how we wanted to work as a team.

Then it happened, Kate suggested doing a run to raise the additional funds we needed for the project. At this Claire and I laughed, but it stuck as a concept, what if, as a new team we pulled together and completed a challenge to raise the money. As running was, quite frankly, out of the question cycling was the next option – maybe somewhat wildly optimistically I suggested a 24 hour cycle ride around the lake… imagine my surprise when the whole team said yes, including Sara who hadn’t actually started yet!

Cycling is not something I’d ever considered as the thing I’d do for exercise, rather paying for a gym membership to use it infrequently seems to be more up my street. In fact, the last time I was on a bike was years ago and even then a slow saunter around on a bike for an hour is about all I had managed.

Now a few months on, with generosity of individuals and local companies we are starting to make progress on our challenge. As the total increased on our just giving page to over £8000 the realism that people wish to support us, that we are doing something worthwhile is humbling.

All we want to do is make a difference to our bridge. I’d love nothing more than for the story in another 250 years to be about how the people who love Clumber Park as we do supported the team to deliver the additional work we need to do to continue to care for the bridge. I’m proud to work at such an amazing place, which means different things to different people.

From the regular dog walkers, to those who call it home, to those of us who use it for some R&R away from our everyday lives, or us that have the privilege of calling it our office, we all play our part in caring for Clumber Park for future generations. This is my way of giving something back to the place I care about.”

Claire Sarris
Claire Sarris
Claire Sarris

“The only journey is the journey within.” – Rainer Maria Rilke”

“I was eight weeks into my new role at Clumber Park when the devastating vandalism took place on the Bridge.  I am local, raised in Carlton-in-Lindrick, and share the emotional connection held by so many other local people; I was devastated by the damage done and too asked the question ‘Why?’

Clumber Park has always been my place of adventure, escape and sanctuary.  As a child, hiding amongst the shadows of the rhododendron bushes with my sister, memories of drawing the Chapel’s gargoyles and grotesques during a school visit with Ramsden Primary, devouring an ice cream, whilst watching the cricket with my Grandad; the memories are endless. 

Clumber Park is the ‘People’s Park’, and as a community, we connect so passionately with this beautiful place.  I feel for Clumber on a very personal level but it wasn’t until I joined the team in January 2018, that I began to realise just how big the park is and how little I knew about the amount of time, care, skill and investment it takes to keep it as picturesque as I’ve always known. I realised I’d just taken it a little for granted.  The Bridge restoration itself is fully covered by our insurance but we wanted to take advantage of having the incredibly expensive scaffolding, only in place due to the damage done, to give the bridge some extra love, shown by so many and raise funds for additional betterment work under the bridge.

As a team, we wanted to step up and try to make an incredibly bad situation into something that could be celebrated by everyone. None of us are particularly athletic or active so we wanted a challenge that would promote the park’s ‘Spirit of Place’; the environment, the beauty; but also the ability to connect with nature through being active.  We want to connect the local passion for the park with not only the physical and technical restoration of the bridge but to use this opportunity to encourage others to be brave, explore deeper into the park, learn more about the conservation work and how your continued support as a member or a visitor plays a huge part in that.  Clumber Park has an incredible intergenerational Active Outdoors offer, from walking, cycling, running, playing games, yoga, gardening, sketching.  Find yourself through finding your ‘thing’. I have.

The Big Push has really shown me the value in trying something new and experiencing the physical and mental benefits of being outdoors. It’s building my confidence and it’s made me believe ‘if I can do it, so can you’."

Sarah Gacem
Sarah Gacem
Sarah Gacem

Just before starting working at Clumber Park earlier this year, Torri sent me a message enquiring about my level of cycling, my answer was: “As long as we are on a flat track, I should be fine”… I remember thinking, that’s a curious question to ask: will we be doing a team building cycle ride around the lake?

Needless to say I never imagined I would embark on such an incredible journey, training hundreds of miles on a bicycle and then a 24hr cycle challenge to help restore our beautiful ornamental bridge at Clumber Park!

I have been lucky to have worked in stunning countries around the world before joining Clumber Park. Whilst working in the Middle East, I used to love mountain biking off road in what we call a wadi (a valley, ravine, or channel that is dry except in the rainy season). It can be a treacherous terrain, full of boulders and loose rocks but so much fun to cycle through.

Unfortunately one day I took a mean tumble and it absolutely shattered my confidence in myself on a bicycle. So I am sure you will understand that this challenge is as much a personal one as it is a team one for me.

The first time we trained, I was adamant a turtle would have been able to overtake me should we have raced to a finish line!

I was ever so scared of picking up any kind of speed on the bike. However as my mother always says, and she seems to be always right:

“Practice makes perfect” and I am not sure about ever being perfect at cycling, but I am slowly but surely picking up some speed down the slopes. I don’t think I will be speeding down them recklessly anytime soon but I have my small victories along the way… I have learnt to love cycling again and for that it is a huge victory in itself for me!

However don’t hold me accountable to this statement in the middle of our 24hr cycle challenge as I am sure I will be thinking: “What have I gotten myself into!” It shows that sometimes you need a meaningful & inspiring goal to help you overcome your personal hurdles, but you will never know unless you try…”

Kate Stark
Kate Stark
Kate Stark

“My name is Kate and I have been a visitor at Clumber Park since childhood.  Now it is one of my little boy’s favourite places (he often asks to go see the animals in the Discovery Centre and loves running around and playing in the park). 

Since having Benjamin nearly 3 years ago I had not been on my bike until we decided to take part in this challenge.  So, not quite what you would call big cycle ready.    So why did I say yes you ask? 

Well I think the easiest thing is to say that Clumber Park is special.  The memories it holds for me, my parents, my son.  I felt I had to do something. 

After the bridge was vandalised I wanted to make a positive from a negative.  The extra work that will be carried out with the funds we are raising will mean that we are making the most of having the scaffolding up and so we will be making a real difference. 

People that know me know I like a challenge, so this is mine for 2019 (my 2018 challenge was to take a photo every day for the entire year and I manged that, so I am sure I will manage this one too!). 

Training has already had highs and lows, but the fact we are training at such a beautiful location makes even the lows much easier to cope with!”

Keep an eye on the girl’s progress with our online training diary and our Instagram stories every Tuesday evening

Support the team by donating even if it’s just £1