Peter Blackshaw Real Estate Managing Principals, Andrew and Belinda Chamberlain will embark on a 500km charity bike ride across rural Thailand next month to raise funds for disadvantaged children. The experience will not only push the pair to new limits for a worthy cause but it will mark a very special occasion as they celebrate 20 years of marriage.
In November last year, Belinda and Andrew made the pledge to participate in Digital Live Ride, an initiative that brings the real estate industry together to help raise much-needed funds for underprivileged Thai children. Steve Carroll, founder of digital coaching program Digital Live and REA Group’s Director of Industry Relations, launched the Digital Live Ride initiative in 2019 in a bid to support the life-changing work of Hands Across the Water (HATW).
HATW was formed by Peter Baines OAM after he led the Australian disaster recovery response unit for the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in Thailand. More than 227,000 people lost their lives and the disaster left many children orphaned and homeless. Deeply touched by the devastation, Baines was inspired to give these children a better start in life. Since 2005, the charity has raised over $25 million and given 400 children access to shelter, food, clothing and medicine. However, as these children have grown and matured, the charity’s focus has shifted to education and future employment opportunities. It was this gap that inspired Carroll to create Digital Live Ride.
Belinda and Andrew will share this life-changing experience with close to 80 individuals from the Australian real estate industry and three riders from the United Kingdom. Several of the orphaned Thai children will also join them on the ride. The pair will start their journey in the northeastern province of Bueng Khan, following the Mekong River before heading west into villages and rural communities.
“We are extremely excited for the challenge and the opportunity to positively change the lives of these children and their communities,” says Belinda. “However, it’s been a tough few months for our own community with the horrific widespread bush fires and storms ravaging so much of Australia.”
“We will admit it has been difficult to remain focused at times while so many of our friends are being affected in some way across Australia. Besides getting out and about on the weekend for training rides, our attention has been somewhat distracted with helping closer to home. Late last year we opened the doors of our eight offices across Canberra as collection points for supplies for the RFS community, as well as Andrew and I personally donating funds to help with the recovery relief efforts.”
“We feel it is important however, to remember why we signed up for Digital Live Ride in the first place. Although it was a very different landscape when we initially put our names down, we made a commitment to help these children and that is exactly what we plan to do.”
After five days of riding, Andrew and Belinda will end their 500km journey at one of HATW’s orphanages and will be greeted at the finish line by the children they have worked so hard to support.
“What is very important about this ride is coming together as one with other leaders from the real estate industry to give back and make a difference in the lives of those that are less fortunate,” says Andrew. “And if we make a difference to our own lives at the same time, we couldn’t think of a better gift for our anniversary.”
The inaugural Digital Live Ride, held in April 2019, saw 30 individuals from the real estate industry raise over $250,000 in one ride across Thailand. This year there are not one but two 500km rides and a fundraising target of $500,000. With nearly three times as many riders as last year, the group is on track to achieve it.
Andrew and Belinda have set themselves a goal to raise $10,000 and with 100% of donations going straight to the children’s education – not on administration and marketing – every single dollar will make a difference to the lives of these children. The event’s fundraising will go towards creating a computer programming traineeship run out of a dedicated learning centre at Home Hug, one of the seven children’s homes run by HATW. The centre will teach children to code so they can move into programming roles in the future.
“All of the funds raised will help provide a high standard of care, a chance at a better education and a future that these children would never have been able to envisage,” says Andrew. “This ride is about providing the children of Thailand the choices and opportunities our amazing four children have been afforded during our 20 years as a family.”
“We are extremely grateful for the community’s generosity as we embark on the 500km Digital Live Ride next month,” says Belinda. “Despite the devastating events across Australia over the past months, so many people have shown their support and we would like to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
If you would like to support Andrew and Belinda on their journey, you can do so via their fundraising page.