EIGHT Lymington cyclists have raised £75,000 to support disabled athletes by taking part in a 400km cycle ride across Kenya.
The team of local participants, who were joined by seven tetraplegic athletes, spent nine days cycling from Nairobi to Nakura to raise money for the charity Regain which supports British sportsmen and women who have been paralysed in sporting accidents.
And they were forced to help the disabled athletes on the uphill sections of the Great Rift Valley after the lithium batteries used to power their tricycles were seized by customs on arrival into the country.
First to sign up for the challenge was 51-year old Penny Vokes from Lymington who persuaded her partner Richard Thorne to join the challenge.
She said: “I decided during my 50th year that I would like to take on a challenge, something unique in my life and way out of my comfort zone.
“A friend of mine, who is a patron for Regain, approached me to join her on this particular challenge.”
After learning the fundraising challenge would finish in Nakura, Penny immediately agreed as the trip would also give her the chance to visit the orphanage her parents set up 20 years ago.
Penny said: “I was speaking to friends about the challenge and, before long, Steve and Mandy Hamson and their son George had signed up, followed by Steve Gates, David Walker and Ben Pitman.”
After months of fundraising and training, which saw the eight local cyclists raise a combined £75,600, the team flew in to Nairobi in October to begin the epic challenge travelling through tropical rainforests, towns and villages, mountain ranges and tea plantations, and along the shores of the magnificent Lake Victoria.
Penny said: “We were training for over a year, cycling every weekend and on Tuesday and Wednesday nights to make sure we were ready.”
The group covered a distance of between 50 and 100km each day setting out at around 6am every morning and cycling for around 12 hours.
A spokesperson for the charity said: “Regain supports tetraplegics by providing financial help to purchase a wide range of specialist equipment that enables them to become independent again.
“Regain also prides itself on encouraging tetraplegics to take part in sporting activities again after their accidents and provides numerous grants every year for sports wheelchairs and hand cycles.”