Training with STFC one of Swindon man's 21 charity challenges

By Barrie Hudson - 20 April 2022

  • Sam Russell-Pierce

    Sam Russell-Pierce

Swindon man Sam Russell-Pierce took on a series of challenges to raise money for two good causes dear to his heart.

Sam, who has Down's Syndrome, has so far raised more than £6,000 for Uplands Enterprise Trust - which helps young people with special educational needs fulfil their potential - and another local organisation, Swindon Down's Syndrome Group.

An unexpected reward for his efforts came when Sam was selected to take part in the South West leg of the Commonwealth Games Queen's baton relay.

He said he was honoured to have been selected for the role.

Sam's mum, Leslye, said the idea for 21 challenges came last summer, when Sam celebrated his 30th birthday.

He chose to do 21 challenges because Down's Syndrome is also known as Trisomy 21 and World Down's Syndrome Day, which he completed his effort in time for, is 21 March.

Leslye said: "I wanted to show people that you've got to give these youngsters a chance.

"The only limits on our kids sometimes are the limits we put on them, so we thought we'd just get out there."

Sam's challenges included a speedboat trip down the Thames, handling snakes, working on fundraising stalls, a stint on the footplate of a steam locomotive, flying in the cockpit of an aircraft, riding the fastest sit-down zipwire and conducting Brunel Brass as they played a specially-composed piece of music.

He trained with Swindon Town FC before cheering fans, managed 21 rides at Thorpe Park in three hours, jet-skied in Poole Harbour, climbed over the roof of the 02, surfed and tried his hand at falconry among other activities.

Leslye wants to spread the message that there are huge misconceptions about people with Down's Syndrome and their potential.

She added that a person may have special needs but their needs were the basic needs of any other person.

People can donate to Sam's causes at

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