Two cyclists are to tackle a 500-mile challenge to ride through The Gambia and help a charity which provides education and access to health care for more than 1300 children.
Mr Bill Smith, 70, from Barnby-in-the-Willows, and Mr Chris Drew, 54, from Loughborough will raise money for the New Life Children’s Centre, a charity based in Newark.
To sponsor this challenge please click here: Cycle Round The Gambia Challenge 2017
It has schools on two sites in The Gambia, one at Kanifing and the other at Half Dye.
Work has just finished on a new two-storey school at Half Dye. The next stage will be to add a third storey. Once that is done they will be able to provide education for 750 children on the site from nursery through to junior secondary.
Bill and Chris plan to tackle the challenge in early March and will ride about 80 miles each day, stopping at bed and breakfasts along the way. Their guide will be Momodou Jallow, who runs a bicycle shop in The Gambia, and there will also be a back-up van which can carry any spares and supplies they need.
Bill said it could be a tough challenge as they do not know what the condition of the roads or tracks that they will ride along will be like. They have been warned to steer clear of hippos and it will also be very hot.
“It’s something different isn’t it?” he said. “I’m looking forward to it because I enjoy meeting new people and seeing how they live.”
Bill, a professional builder, said he had been looking for a new challenge after completing three previous charity rides.
The first was a trip from Newark to Morocco in 2002 , two years later he led a team of cyclists on a 1,000 mile trip visiting 20 English Premier football grounds and then ten years ago he completed the journey from Morocco to Newark.
“I wanted to do another ride and thought why not The Gambia?” he said. “I know it is going to be very different from the other rides because of the conditions.”
He will be joined by Chris, a construction worker, who became involved with the charity last year when he was among 20 people to take part in a Welsh Three Peaks Challenge which raised money for its work.
“The cycle challenge of 500 miles around The Gambia will be my greatest challenge to date,” he said.
“I sponsor a child in The Gambia which has been my motivation to support the charity. The children live in such poverty and by raising money we can give children a chance to build better lives, gain a good education and have a future.”
Bill’s wife Penny and Chris’ partner Helen will travel with them to The Gambia and help with projects with the children while they complete the ride.
Supporters of the charity regularly make trips to The Gambia and a group which will involve people from the Newark area including sponsorship director Mrs Sylvia Morgan, will arrive in time to see Bill and Chris at the end of the challenge.
Bill said he hoped that people would help by sponsoring them. Anybody donating £20 or over will receive a thank you postcard written by one of the children at the schools.
Donations can be made by visiting uk.virginmoneygiving.com/CycleTheGambia