Teenage cyclists in Maida Vale fundraise for Lebanon after ‘horror’ at explosion in Beirut

Riccardo Perrotta (centre) with Jacob Kouyoumijan and George Coutya in Lebanon. Along with Lea Semaa

Riccardo Perrotta (centre) with Jacob Kouyoumijan and George Coutya in Lebanon. Along with Lea Semaan, they are cycling 50km to raise money for the relief effort after the shocking explosion in Beirut on August 4. Picture; Riccardo Perrotta - Credit: Archant

Four Maida Vale teenagers are hoping an epic 50km bike ride around London can help raise desperately needed cash for the Lebanese Red Cross after the explosion that devastated Beirut on August 4.

Lebanese trio George Coutya, Lea Semaan and Jacob Koyoumijan and their friend Riccardo Perrotta are all set to saddle up on August 17 and cycle first towards the Lebanese embassy before marking a route around London that takes in Stamford Bridge and the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.

The quartet are all 17, and are keen to raise as much as possible to help the recovery effort in the Middle-Eastern country’s capital.

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Speaking to the Wood&Vale, Riccardo, who is Italian-American but has spent time with his friends in Beirut, said: “When I found out about what happened I knew I needed to find some way to help. I think people in Europe pay less attention to the Middle-East, but if you visit you see how wonderful and kind people in Beirut are, they don’t deserve this.

“So far, this year has been full of suffering.”

The quartet all live in Maida Vale, with Riccardo, Lea and George at to St Benedict’s School in Ealing and Jacob attending Cardinal Vaughan Memorial in Kensington.

Riccardo said he and his fellow cyclists had family friends who had been caught up in the blast, and that it had been a very raw week – with it being incredibly difficult to find out the whereabouts of loved ones in the immediate aftermath.

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The 50km loop would have been 100km, he said, but for the fact that he, a semi-professional footballer for North Greenford, is nursing and injury.

He added: “My friends have been so worried for people back home, one of their dads can barely speak about what has happened.”

The team are hoping to raise at least £2,000 for the Red Cross and wanted to make sure the route touched upon the Lebanese embassy to highlight the perceived corruption in the nation’s politics.

On Monday evening, the Lebanese government resigned after coming under huge pressure, with protests sweeping the country.

At least 220 people died in the explosion, with more than 100 others still missing.

To help the Maida Vale teenagers with their fundraiser, visit: uk.gofundme.com/f/50km-cycle-lebanese-red-cross