Back in the pre Covid world of April 2018, Sevenoaks Sport & Wellbeing reported on the successes and future plans of Sevenoaks charity – CharityLinks. The brainchild of retired businessman John Douglas, this charity supports children’s educational projects in East Africa and it does so by organising fundraising challenges.
Until Covid struck the challenges were run exclusively in East Africa (either climbing Kilimanjaro or cycling through testing parts of the area) but recently some rethinking has been required. As john said: “the needs of the projects keep growing while Covid is disastrously affecting our income – we had to do something”.
Ride Morocco 2022 a week cycling through Morocco’s iconic Atlas Mountains and on the edge of the Sahara Desert. John explains ‘like our recent challenges it is cycling in Africa, and while not in East Africa this ride offers heat, wild terrain and spectacular vistas. Cycling through canyons and high mountain passes to tented camps there is something for everyone’
This new event was launched recently at Kingdom, an amazing venue near Penshurst which combines the charm of a treehouse with the quality and sophistication of The Beacon its Tunbridge Wells ‘parent’. The event not only showcased the new cycle jerseys for the forthcoming Challenge but was a 10th year reunion for members of KiliClimb2011 the very first of the fundraisers. On hand at Kingdom were MC Ian Lovett taking time out from his duties as President of the England & Wales Cricket Board to support the charity and Joff Summerfield, who recently returned from cycling his Penny-farthing around the world.
Since we last caught up with Charity Links they completed Ride the Rift 2019 a Challenge in which 18 intrepid cyclists (one who enjoyed Ride East Africa so much she flew from Vancouver to join the team) cycled in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley. While raising money for a range of projects the team were so appalled by the washroom facilities in one girl’s school they visited that there and then they vowed to fund the building of a replacement (a short film of this transformative work can be seen at www.charitylinks.org.uk) That Challenge also funded among other things the provision of fresh water from a borehole at a school in Uganda.
Returning to the theme of the charity’s next fundraising Challenge Ride Morocco 2022, John was keen to emphasise that the cycling was something that most people could easily manage with some training beforehand. Indeed he admitted that only months before KiliRide 2015 (a seven day circumnavigation of the base of Kilimanjaro) he hadn’t been on a bike for years. He said: “I urge anyone who is remotely interested to look at www.charitylinks.org.uk/past-africa where they will find videos and information on past Challenges. After that please give me a call and I’d be delighted to chat either by phone or over a beer or coffee to explain what fun and how very rewarding these Challenges are for both those who take part and those who benefit.”