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Sunshine & Smiles

Well done to Ailith on completing her Tri 21 Iron Challenge!

She did it!!!! Saturday 24th July our own Ailith Harley-Roberts swam 3.9km, cycled 180km and ran 42.2km - all within 17 hours - to complete a home-made Iron distance triathlon in Yorkshire. Others joined her along the way to support her in her mission but at the end of the day there was one Iron Woman - WELL DONE AILITH!!!


Here's a message from Ailith after the event:

I could not have anticipated the support & kindness of so many people who came together yesterday to make a day to be remembered always...Thank you to everyone who took part... I would not have made it within 17 hours without you all!!

Thank you to everyone who came out to support us and sent such lovely words of encouragement...And thank you to everyone who has made a donation to help us stsrt our journey of hopefully regenerating the community hall we have used for the last 8 years... to create The Sunshine Hub!

We've raised a wonderful £5000 so far ... we're aiming for £10,000 to kickstart the Sunshine Hub and the page will be open for another few weeks if you are able to donate...

And just to say.... we did it!!!

I swam 3.9km, cycled 180km then ran 42.2km... all within 17 hours!

Although it wasn't an official Ironman event.... I still think it's okay to say I am an Iron woman... thanks to all the amazing people around me!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you


The whole event is with the aim of raising essential funds for Sunshine & Smiles to create ‘The Sunshine Hub’. 

The Sunshine Hub

We have the exciting opportunity to take over the lead tenancy of Stainbeck Community Hall, to invest in the building and its future. 

We’ve been tenants at Stainbeck Community Hall since 2013 and we think it is a wonderful space with so much potential but it definitely needs some TLC! 

During the coronavirus pandemic we have been able to run many of our activities virtually, but we are aware of the real need in our community for a safe, accessible & supportive physical space to meet and run our activities.

Our aim is to create a vibrant and welcoming community hub for Sunshine & Smiles, and also to offer work opportunities for people with Down syndrome. The refurbished community hall would create a home for Sunshine & Smiles where our families can come together for regular groups and activities, but also be an amazing local venue for the wider community to enjoy and use.

The Tri 21 Iron Challenge is just the beginning and we need to raise £100,000 to realise our dream! 

Please help us by donating today!

Click here to find out more and sponsor Ailith and the team.

Here is Ailith’s story, and those of the others taking part: 

Ailith Harley-Roberts- Swimming 3.9km, Cycling 180km and running 42.2km:

11 years ago our beautiful daughter Thalia was born after an amazing home delivery. I remember holding her in my arms; in awe of this tiny, perfect life. After a while I ventured to say what I had been thinking from the moment I saw Thalia, 'I think she has Down Syndrome'. There were lots of 'ummms' and 'maybes', the midwives checked for physical signs; a larger gap between the big and second toe, just one crease across the palm of her hand,but her eyes and her face told me all I needed to know; we were transferred to hospital for diagnostic blood tests and to check Thalia's heart. 

Lying on the hospital ward at 5am I was wide awake... desperately excited to get to know our new daughter, determined that we would give her all the love, care and support that she would need... and worrying about what the future would bring for her. 

Kevin texted our friends and family, he explained that it was likely that Thalia had Down syndrome, and what he wrote was just right- 'Thalia Skye was born on 17th February at 12.39am, we celebrate her arrival into our family and treasure her for who she is and who she will become'. 

Thalia has changed our lives just as any other child; she brings us joy, worries, frustrations, amazement ... and most of all inspiration! Without Thalia I wouldn't have been one of a group of parents who set up Sunshine & Smiles, so in honour of my family and all the other amazing people I am privileged to know, this is my fundraising challenge for 2021!! 

'I wouldn't change you for the world, but I wish I could change the world for you...'  

Kevin Harley-Roberts- Running 10km, Cycling 50km: 

Why? Just Why? Of course, Ailith needs to answer that question and justify the craziness involved in an Iron distance triathlon! But for me, we've been on this journey together. Of being parents to Thalia. Of Ailith's work and commitment to Sunshine and Smiles. Providing better support to families who have a child with Down Syndrome is something we are both passionate about. So,  I'm also hoping to be a part of the Tri 21 Iron Challenge. I love riding bikes, and enjoy running. Swimming? Not so much, but it's starting to catch on with me! Mostly, however, it's just about sharing part of this particular journey, within our wider journey, with the woman I love.

Kerry Maule- Running 10km:

I'm taking part in the Tri 21 Iron Challenge because of three reasons; to raise donations for a charity that's very close to my heart, to support Ailith and everyone involved in what is a mammoth and exciting event, and to challenge my own fitness capabilities to gain both strength and mental belief that we can achieve great goals.

Tamsin Kingsley- Running 10km: 

Since the birth of my daughter Izzy 4 years ago Sunshine and Smiles have offered us invaluable support; from visiting us in hospital during a difficult first year, to offering free family swimming sessions where we could also meet other families living with Down Syndrome. Now that Izzy is about to start school I am finding it so useful to chat to all the other families I’ve got to know through Sunshine and Smiles for different perspectives on important decisions. Please support Ailith by donating and helping to ensure that the charity can continue to help families for many years to come. 

Greg Houfe - Cycling 100km:

I was introduced to Sunshine and Smiles a few years ago by The Cranfield Trust when I volunteered my time to provide business and organisational advice. I have seen the wide range of services and support that Sunshine and Smiles offers to the children and families, and the passion and energy they bring to everything they do. I have also seen and participated in one of the numerous fundraising activities they engage in. So when Ailith first mentioned she was going to attempt the full Tri 21 Iron challenge it didn’t completely come as a surprise. It is an amazingly tough event that I know has demanded a lot of hard work and dedication, with early starts and late nights from the freezing winter to the slightly more pleasant summer. I wanted to offer a bit of support to Ailith as she goes through the day, so as my swimming style is little more than doggy paddle, and my running rather suspect, I decided to dust down the lycra and join Ailith on part of the 180km cycling leg.

Sue Cockle - Running 10km:

I am running 10k with, and as a way to show my support to, my sister-in-law Ailith Harley-Roberts as she takes on an Iron distance triathlon challenge to raise money for Sunshine & Smiles, a charity that is close to my heart.

Rob Henderson - Swimming 3.9km, Running 10km:

I wanted to support Ailith on her amazing challenge because she is so much more selfless than anyone I know, especially me, and so if I can help her to support a charity that has so much true value and provides not only support but real life opportunities then pulling on my wetsuit is the least I could do.

Russell Sykes - Riding 100km: 

I'm in awe of someone so committed to such a fantastic support group could find the time to train and plan for such a major event! Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to ride a bike, I'm joining Ailith for some of the bike laps and feel like it's the least I could do as Sunshine and Smiles (Ailith in particular) have provided amazing support to our family. I hope it helps make the new hub become a reality sooner rather than later.

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