Lowestoft teenager is getting on his bike to inspire to other young people

NOT too long ago, Louis Carr was lacking drive and direction.

Low on confidence and 'mixing with the wrong crowd', he was in danger of going off the rails.

But today the Pakefield teenager is setting off on a 180-mile bike ride to raise funds for seriously ill children – a shining example to other young people of what can be achieved with a positive attitude.

Louis, 17, of Saffron Square, is taking part in the Cycling For Life ride from Brighton to Lowestoft after becoming involved with the organisation Catch 22 which works with social services to offer support and advice to young people.

He is being joined on his charity ride by Peter Hennessey, a volunteer organiser at Catch 22, and hopes to raise �1,000 through sponsorship for London's Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

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He gives much of the credit for his new-found optimism and upbeat attitude to the help he has received from staff at Catch 22, which works across Suffolk on behalf of the National Citizen Service.

Louis, who studies uniformed services at Lowestoft College, told The Journal: 'The National Citizen Service is very good and has helped me. I have an interview with them soon. Because of Catch 22 I have decided to help someone else, and I chose GOSH as I wanted to help people less fortunate than me.'

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He said he hoped to complete his bike ride over three days and added: 'I'm quite confident of doing it in that time. It is the first time I've ever done something like this, but I have cycled to Beccles and been in the gym training for it.'

When he leaves college, Louis is hoping to become a member of the National Citizen Service.

He has already impressed organisers at Catch 22 by taking part in high-level meetings and mentoring other youngsters on the scheme, which offers residential visits to help build confidence and team skills.

Praising Louis's efforts Mr Hennessey, 22, said he was a shining example of what could be achieved.

'Louis is an inspiration and a role model to other young people,' he said. 'He is very positive and is helping other people on the course. He is a fine example of what the National Citizen Service can achieve.'

Last year, Louis raised �1,200 for a cancer charity and Help a East Coast Child by doing a static triathlon.

But, with the unsettled weather forecast to continue over the next few days, he could face a few heavy showers on his ride from the south coast – a journey that his mum, Liz Carr, admits is way beyond her.

She said: 'I am very proud of him. I could not even cycle to the shops and back!'

?To sponsor Louis, visit his fund-raising website at www.justgiving.com/cyclingforlife

During his ride, Louis will be providing internet blog updates at http://blog.travelpod.com/members/cyclingforlife

?The National Citizen Service is designed for Year 11 students but anyone over 16 can become a mentor. Its course provides two four-day residential visits and up to 30 hours working on ways to improve the community.

For information on the Catch22-run scheme in Suffolk, visit www/catch-22.org.uk/ncs

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