“It’s OK lah”, he says as he insists on helping to carry a camera bag to the car from a photoshoot at the East Coast Park. The Indian national, who arrived in Singapore in 2011, went on to list RHT Health Trust, a business trust with India based healthcare assets, on the Main Board of the Singapore Exchange Limited. He is now the CEO of a private fund management company, Dunraven Capital Pte Ltd.
Pawanpreet Singh, 50, is completely at home in Singapore. He and his wife, Dr Ramnik Ahuja, 49, live in a condominium in the eastern part of the island. She specialises in Social and Preventive Medicine. They have a son, Hargun Ahuja, 19, who is currently studying in Britain.
The couple is deeply involved in volunteer work here and that can be traced to a 2014 meeting with a group of cyclists during a charity ride from Malacca to Singapore. The bonding was easy, says Pawan, as friends call him. There were many foreigners and locals of Indian origin in it who spoke Hindi and Punjabi.
They were a fun group inclined to “break out into bhangra dances on the road” during ride stops, he adds.
That group has evolved and has come now to be known as Ride To Serve (R2S). They organise yearly charity rides and raise funds for the Sikh Welfare Council’s (Siwec) programmes, which extend beyond the Sikh communities in Singapore.
Pawan says of the 2014 ride: “The concept and cause were much appreciated by the family and we have ever since been involved with the organisation. It has given us the opportunity to network with other groups as well.”
This includes other groups which organise charity bicycle rides, both within Singapore and cross-border ones.
He adds: “The community service that these groups do has held us together and, now, all the fellow riders of R2S are like an extended family.”
Cycling together has also given birth to other charitable initiatives, among them one called the Langar Outreach Programme (LOP) in which a group of R2S riders is involved in helping the needy with daily cooked meals. In this initiative, the LOP group connected with Willing Hearts (WH) a voluntary organisation which runs a soup kitchen out of the Kembangan-Chai Chee Community Hub and delivers about 5,000 daily meals – 365 days a year – to more than 40 locations across the island.
Pawan says: “We have engaged almost all the Sikh temples across Singapore to send over 1,500 chapati meals, per week. A friend and I personally cook over 600 meals at the WH kitchen each Saturday.”
The cycling connection of 2014 extended to Pawan’s family too and, in 2016, his son took part in a four-day 540-km ride from Singapore to Malacca and back. At age 15, he was the youngest in the group to complete such a distance.
Dr Ramnik is also involved in the cycling- for- charity effort. She often joins the rides to provide medical cover as a marshal. In this role she rides in a support car accompanying the cyclists and attends to those who may need help. Asked what motivates her to join in, she notes the fun and familial nature of the R2S group and its rides. She says: “The fun and bonding starts before the ride, at get-togethers the night before. From the moment they are flagged off till the very end everybody is in a very fun mood. When they are at a rest-stop, the riders will ask the marshals to turn on the music so they can dance.”
She added that their spirit is infectious. “I think it just boosts up their energy. Never have I seen a day when the cyclists say ‘Oh we’re very tired, we don’t want to do it anymore. Everybody is enthusiastic. They say ‘let’s freshen up and sit together and have fun.’ It becomes a large family, you know… and you tend to carry those cherished moments for months to come.”
Cyclists who want to join R2S for casual rides are welcome, and novices who want to join the next R2S ride in March next year can expect support from the group, says Pawan. To start, many in the group are experienced cyclists and can advise on acquiring the right equipment for the ride, from bicycle to accessories such as gloves, helmets, shoes, and lights. He notes that R2S also provides structured training a few months before each yearly ride. These have already started preparation for R2S 2020.
These rides start with short distances and then progress to 100km or more, to help the cyclist to build stamina. But it is not just physical training. They allow the cyclist to get used to riding on the road, to get familiar with fellow riders and also to find out which speed-group he or she belongs to.
R2S rides typically groups cyclists according to their natural speed so that no-one rides alone. Each group will also have a leader and a last-man who will keep the group together, guide and look after the safety of the group. Potential R2S 2020 cyclists will be comforted to know that safety is given very high priority and the yearly ride always has an accompanying ambulance while in Malaysia.
Event marshals also have safety as a key role, besides handing out refreshments from their support cars which ply the ride route. Pawan says: “While we riders are joking around and having fun, the event marshals and cyclist group leaders take their jobs seriously to keep things safe on the road. “During the ride, the event marshals will keep a very close watch on each and every cyclist. If they feel the rider is not well, is wobbling on the bike, they will stop him.”
Ramnik jumps in: “That is where I come in very sternly and put the cyclist in a car.”
R2S 2020 Basic Facts
Schedule and Route
- Riders will leave Singapore for Malacca by bus on Saturday 14 March
- They will cycle 100 km to Batu Pahat on Sunday 15 March
- They will cycle 170 km from Batu Pahat to Singapore on Monday 16 March
- An optional ride from Port Dickson to Malacca on Sat 14 March is being planned.
Riders must be at least 18 years old and have no health issues that will affect their riding.
They must also join training sessions organised by R2S so that they can be placed in the correct speed-group. Volunteers can also join as road marshals. They will be expected to drive or ride in support vehicles and transport luggage as well as distribute refreshments.
Each rider must have his own bicycle (tri-bikes are not allowed) and accessories. A helmet is compulsory. Foldies will be assigned to the last (slowest) group.
The joining fee is about $370 and this covers transport, accommodation (with breakfast) in Malacca and Batu Pahat, travel insurance and an event jersey. Fees for the optional Port Dickson ride are separate.
All volunteers are encouraged to raise at least $500 each, towards the ride target of $250,000.
Donations attract a tax deduction of 2.5 times the amount donated.
You can register here:
Please call Luvinderpal Singh on 90043954 for further enquires.