tiny change maker Rab Wardell

Published on 24.08.22

We’re incredibly sad to share this story with you today.

Yesterday we heard the news that Scottish mountain bike racer, cyclist and coach Rab Wardell died in his sleep on Monday night. Rab was at the heart of our Tiny Changes community. We first met him in 2021, when he got in touch to share his big ambition to help hundreds of young minds feel better with us.

We were about to announce Rab as our very first charity ambassador. It was an obvious choice; one of the best and well-loved cyclists in Scotland and a role model for so many young people. His openness and vulnerability about his own mental health is still unusual in a world where men don’t often feel like they can talk about depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses.

Rab was a truly special, talented and supportive tiny change maker. He was always one of the first people to send a motivating ‘you can do it!’ message to our team and to those fundraising for Tiny Changes. No matter how busy he was, he always made time for the people and cause he cared about.

Rab lost a close friend to suicide in 2016 and was on a mission to normalise talking about mental health and remove the stigma attached to seeking help. He delivered youth workshops and talks for See Me Scotland and Champions in Scotland, and had ‘Tiny’ plans for a big school talks tour, a mental health film with Jay Golian, a Tiny Changes kit, and the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow.

A couple of months ago we were sat together in the sunshine in the Tweed Valley, watching young racers in the Enduro World Series and dreaming up fun things Rab might do as ambassador. We walked over to the Santa Cruz tent to meet his team there and there was a young racer who’d had a fall. Rab instantly checked in with him and encouraged him. He knew that a tiny change like talking to someone who’s feeling down can help them back up again. We have no doubt he helped many, many people in moments like this.

We’re feeling the huge loss of someone we know would have become a great friend and a brilliant ambassador for Tiny Changes. We’re sending so much love to Rab’s family, friends, the biking community and to Katie who is very much in our thoughts. Rab was so loved, and we hope we can find a way to honour him and his passion to help young people in the months ahead.

Kara, Filo and Team Tiny Changes. x

Rab Wardell won and competed in so many mountain biking and cycling races and events. A few days ago he won the men’s elite race at the Scottish MTB XC Championships in Dumfries and Galloway. He was a record holder for the fastest time biking the West Highland Way in Scotland. You can watch Rab’s Old Enough To Know Better series on YouTube.

The image of Rab in this post was taken by filmmaker, photographer and friend of Rab, Jay Golian.

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