Meet the Cyclist Who Shares an Emotional Bond with Prince William and Prince Harry
Like the royal brothers, Peckham-Cooper lost his mother in a car crash when he was a boy. And, like them, he has received praise for honoring his late mother through good works.
He now hopes to do the same for Princess Diana, making an epic 3,300-mile bike ride from New York to San Francisco. And he’s embarking on the endeavor to raise money and awareness for the Diana Award, which is the only charity that carries the late princess’s name, and is marking its 20th anniversary this year.
Peckham-Cooper, 29, was a Diana Award recipient after he completed a round-Britain bike ride when he was just 14. And he met the princes just before the concert they set up in 2007 to mark the 10th anniversary of Diana’s death.
“I think me and Harry got on pretty well,” he recalls. They shared their stories and “how we had that fact in common and how they got through it. They were impressed at the way I had looked to try to turn it into a positive and make money for charity as well.”
Peckham-Cooper said they talked about how it was a “tough situation to go through and how leaning on siblings helped.”
“They are both very different and individual in their own right. But they have the same mentality in having that get-up-and-go attitude and wanting to give back to the community that they live or interact in,” he adds.
“They were very proactive about wanting to do something on a broader scale. I think that is coming to the fore for both of them – even more now they are starting to have their own families. Some of the things around the mental health awareness that Kate and William are doing, it shows the positivity. What could be so destructive and damaging has turned into a positive.”
Although Peckham-Cooper now lives in New York — where he works with workplace consultants Mindgym -— he was born and raised in Kent, England. But his life was struck by tragedy in December 2001 when his mother Jane died after her car hit a lorry as she drove to work.
“I am one of seven siblings and she was always passionate about children. I wanted to do something in memory for her,” he says of his first long cycle ride, that raised money for the National Society for Protection of Cruelty to Children, which won him recognition from the Diana Award when he was a teen.
The award “changed my life for the better. I got training from it – from delivering speeches to conferences, to visiting 10 Downing Street and being able to meet the princes,” he says, “It opened up a whole lot of doors. I’ve become a much more rounded individual and it changed how I view the world. I do believe that young people have the power to change the world. The award’s mission to empower and inspire and support young people is so powerful.”
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Peckham-Cooper’s fiancée Pippa Canlan-Shaw will be nearby in a support car as he hopes to raise $25,000 during his journey across America on the Bridge to Bridge ride. He kicks off at the Brooklyn Bridge on March 30 and, after crossing 14 states, he hopes to be at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco 45 days later – with only two full rest days in between.