Challenge 81

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In celebration of what would have been John Peel’s 81st birthday, the Directors, employees, volunteers, and Friends of the John Peel Centre (JPC) are undertaking a range of exciting and unusual fundraising activities connected to John Peel, 81, and the work of the JPC.

John Peel Centre is part of a national initiative – Save Our Venues – launched by Music Venue Trust to prevent the closure of hundreds of independent music venues.  Funds raised on behalf of the JPC ‘Challenge 81’ will go to the John Peel Centre, with the aim of helping it survive through the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.  Like many arts and cultural organisations, for the safety of the wider community, the JPC has been forced to close its doors. Of course, we are itching to open again and continue to do what we do best: provide a platform for great live art for live audiences. However, like the rest of the country, saving lives is our primary concern, and we understand we can only open when it is safe to do so. However, the reality is that the JPC relies on its earned income, and right now, it is not in a position to earn the level of income needed to keep afloat long-term. To help it through this period of uncertainty and beyond, the team has come up with a great menu of fun and creative fundraising activities which we hope (if you can afford to do so) you might be willing to donate to.

Many of these activities will take place on 30.08.2020, which is John’s actual birthday, but there are also a whole host of things happening around this date. Take a look at the menu below to see what we’re up to and how you can donate.

What better way to say “Happy Birthday John” than celebrate some of the things he is most fondly remembered for, at the same time as raising some essential funds for the creative community arts centre set up in his name.

You can donate any time from now via

Challenges on 30.08.2020

8.00am – 4.10pm – The Cox’ Dance Challenge 81 – John Peel’s Festive 50 of 1981 (on repeat!)

JPC Strategic Manager, Jane Cox, and her family are taking on the mammoth task of dancing non-stop for 8 hours and 10 minutes (between one and four members of the family of four, aged between 7 & 42 years old, will be dancing at any one time for a duration of 8 hours and 10 minutes. Even better, they will be dancing to the soundtrack of John Peel’s Festive 50 for 1981… on repeat… We will manning our YouTube channel and Facebook Page so feel free to dip in and out, ask a question, laugh at them, or offer encouragement! We will also be sure to capture some of this on video and photos. Donate via

4.10pm – 6.00pm – Video clips from the staff and volunteers’ individual challenges!  Donate via

6.00pm – 6.45pm – Sheila Ravenscroft with John’s Record Collection Challenge 81

From 6pm, we will be broadcasting live on YouTube. Sheila Ravenscroft (John’s wife) will be playing tracks 8 & 1 from record numbers 8100, 8181, 0839 (all of these are associated with John’s date of birth) from John Peel’s carefully catalogued record collection of 26000 albums.

We are inviting you to make a donation to the John Peel Centre by following this link and then join us on our YouTube channel from 6pm to find out which records they are and watch Sheila spin some vinyl!  Donate via

7.30pm – 9.00pm – JPC 81 Minutes of great music

The JPC has been collaborating with artists to produce 81 great minutes of music from their ‘lockdown’ state. Each artist has donated a track of their music to the JPC fundraising cause, and we are piecing together the patchwork of awesome artists and their melodies to make 81 Minutes of great music for you to enjoy, to access the many artists we’re pretty sure have never shared a bill like this before!!  Go to our YouTube channel at 7.30pm to share the delights of this unique event and don’t forget to donate via!

Throughout the day:

Andy Patton

Andy Patton – Cycle Challenge 81

On 30.08.2020 (or in the week before to allow for work commitments and inclement weather), JPC volunteer Finance Director, Andy Patton, will be doing an 81-mile bike ride (no mean feat!). His carefully planned cycle route will start at the JPC in the morning and he will make his way towards Great Finborough to pass John’s blue plaque on the community centre there before he heads up to Eye, Halesworth, Framingham, and back to finish at the JPC (please see map for full route).

This challenge will definitely take place on a single day and we’ll make sure Andy takes the photos to prove it…. Donate via

Simon Buckmaster – Bicycle and Fact Challenge 81

JPC Director Simon, who many will know is responsible for the JPC Friends programme, conveniently lives 8.1 miles away from the JPC. Therefore, for his Challenge, he is going to cycle to the JPC and back five times, making his total journey 81 miles. To top it off, each time he reaches the JPC, there will not only be someone to greet him with a drink of water, he is going to share one of the obscure and unusual music facts he is so well known for! We will make sure we record and share each fact on our online platforms. Donate via

Ursula Scott – Skipping Challenge 81

For her challenge on 30.08.2020, JPC Director for Volunteers, Ursula Scott (who some of you might recognise as the Manager of Stowmarket Library), is taking a trip back to her childhood and attempting 81 continuous jumps with an ankle skip rope – something she hasn’t done since leaving school, so she is currently hard at work putting in some training! To ease the pain of this mammoth challenge she will be doing the whole thing whilst listening to one of her favourite episodes of Home Truths.

Ursula will have an assistant on hand, so we will make sure we capture her athletic skill and share moments with you via our social media and YouTube channel. Donate via

Challenges in the lead up to 30.08.2020

Gareth Betts-Davies Challenge 81 photo
Gareth Betts-Davies

Gareth Betts-Davies – Eclectic Rhythm Walk Challenge 81

JPC HR Director, Gareth Betts-Davies, has taken inspiration from John’s wooden record box (a wooden box containing 142 singles was discovered among John’s belongings after his death) and the associated Channel 4 documentary for his challenge!

Gareth is going walk, walk, walk, and walk some more. During his walk he will listen to the A side/first track of first 81 records of John Peel’s wooden box of records (interesting and eclectic mix).  Gareth’s challenge will not end until he has reached number 81. He is going to be making a video diary of his walk, and you can keep up to date this and where he is up to via our online channels. Donate via

Patsy Cane – 81km Walk Through Scenic Suffolk

JPC General Manager, Patsy Cane, will be walking around Suffolk, totalling a mammoth 81km in just one week.  She will be sharing her route with photos throughout the week celebrating the splendid Suffolk countryside, which was John’s adopted home, finishing at the JPC on the 30.08.2020. Donate via