A retired trio have raised a huge four-figure sum for Scotland’s international healthcare charity, EMMS International, after they completed the Malawi Bike Ride 22 combined with the gruelling Three Peaks Challenge, cycling almost 500 miles between the highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales.
John Bruce, 65, an independent financial advisor from Inverness, his wife Tina, 63, retired, and their friend Gordon Young, 61, retired, from Linlithgow, completed the charity’s sponsored Malawi Bike Ride, which has traditionally taken place in the East African country, by climbing Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis, completing the challenge on Friday 9 September. They raised £1,235 plus gift aid.
The intrepid three completed the challenge in seven days, with John and Gordon cycling the 462-mile distance between the peaks and Tina driving alongside. By taking the lengthy journey by bike, John and Gordon completed EMMS International's Malawi Bike Ride 2022, cycling further than the 417-mile distance between the town of Mzuzu to Mulanje Mission Hospital in Malawi, where EMMS carries out some of its charitable activity.
EMMS International is an Edinburgh-based charity that develops healthcare services and infrastructure in Malawi, Nepal and India, and offers respite breaks to people with life-limiting conditions in Scotland.
The charity is renowned for its annual Malawi Bike Ride, which normally takes place in Malawi, attracting hundreds of cyclists for the overseas challenge. This year however, participants are invited to participate by getting on their bikes at home anytime during September and by doing as many miles as they want anywhere in the world, making the challenge more accessible and environmentally friendly. Money raised by the challenge will help develop healthcare systems for people facing extreme poverty.
“Back in 2012 I thought it might be a good idea to climb the three peaks and cycle between them. Gordon thought he might be up for it too. Ten years later, I reminded him of my challenge. At age 65 I thought I’d better not leave it much longer,” John said. “It was definitely a challenge, and as day two ended I did begin to wonder if I’d make it. However, I was not for giving up.
“As we came close to the end of the descent of Ben Nevis I was feeling that I had achieved my goal. Then, coming towards me, my daughter and baby granddaughter were walking on the path followed by three mutual friends. A lovely surprise!”
The trio decided to take on the Three Peaks because it was a challenge they had always wanted to tackle and decided to support EMMS International having fundraised for the charity before. They’re also keen cyclists, with all three having cycled from Land's End to John o' Groats in the past, which made taking the 500 miles by bike even more exciting.
“I decided that it was something more than just doing a sponsored walk,” John says. “I did mean to be fully retired before I did it, but time is marching on, so I just thought we would do it now.”
John has supported EMMS International for 23 years, having completed his first bike ride in 1999. He and Tina have undertaken many EMMS International Malawi bike rides over the years, and Gordon has also done several rides for the charity. “It was the opportunity to go to Africa with a group that took me there first, with the Malawi focus, but being there and meeting the people you could see that there was a great need for support,” John explains.
Laura Brown, Director of Fundraising for EMMS International, said: "What an outstanding effort by all three challengers. What a wonderful way to combine the Malawi Bike Ride with the Three Peaks Challenge and raise funds to help people facing extreme poverty have access to better healthcare. It’s great to see people participating in the Malawi Bike Ride 22 at home and in doing so not contributing to the effects of climate change. There’s still time to get involved and get on your bike – although we don’t expect many to do the Three Peaks Challenge at the same time. Most of our participants opt for the more sedate challenge of 30 miles!”
To get involved with EMMS International's Malawi Bike Ride 2022 this month please visit www.emms.org/malawi-bike-ride-2022 .