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York St John hosts ‘Grand Depart’ for BBC Radio 1’s Comic Relief challenge

Published: 09 March 2023

  •   Featured
A woman in a black coat with raised hands in front of a ten person bicycle

York St John University played host to Radio 1 presenters, crew and listeners this week as Arielle Free kicked off her gruelling Tour de Dance at our Lord Mayor’s Walk campus.

Arielle has been taking on the ultimate test of stamina, strength and endurance by pedalling almost 100 miles through wind, rain and freezing temperatures, all while completing her longest ever DJ set.

The Red Nose Day challenge started on Sunday 5 March at York St John University when Arielle was joined by groups of listeners to complete laps of York on a ten-seater ‘beer bike’ (see image).

Before setting off Free said: “I’m so nervous about the challenge, it’s something I’d never considered before, and that’s just the cycling shorts! It’s going to be a huge mental and physical challenge peddling whilst mixing live, across five cities in one week.

“I have definitely had some funny looks in the gym whilst practising DJing on the bikes!

“Looking forward to raving and pedalling across the nation, if you see us cycling past, please show some support by dancing along! And please donate if you can!”

Through the afternoon, Radio 1 presenters Katie Thistleton, Vick Hope and Jordan North joined the team on campus to show their support for Arielle and broadcast live from a mobile studio.

Anna Hill from the Events team at York St John University accompanied Arielle on the bike for her last ride of the day. She said: “We’ve been really proud to support Arielle with her Comic Relief Tour de Dance challenge. Her energy and commitment was amazing and she absolutely gave it her all.

“When we joined her for the static bike section it was dark and cold but she still kept smiling, chatting and playing the tunes even though she’d been doing laps of York for 9 hours at this point. Please consider donating if you can!”

Following the stint in York, the relentless Tour de Dance challenge has taken to the streets of Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester, finishing in Liverpool on Thursday 9 March.

Money raised from the challenge will go to Comic Relief to help people through the toughest times of their lives, in the UK and around the world. Red Nose Day returns on Friday 17 March. 

More information and how to donate on the Comic Relief website 


Contact us

Communications team

York St John University, Lord Mayors Walk, York, YO31 7EX

01904 876 466

To contact us out of hours, phone 07812 365 499