No ride is too long when you have good company

  • "I’ve found that even if you don’t share a common language, you can still communicate your happiness at being in their country – everyone understands a big smile and a wave!"

Published 18 Dec 2018

What bike ride(s) have you taken part in?

I’ve taken part in the Cycle Malawi 2015, the TriMalawi in 2016, and Cycle Nepal 2018.

There are lots of different challenge events and lots of good causes out there. Why did the EMMS challenge grab your attention?

Firstly, if you are looking to push your limits then don't look further than an EMMS challenge - they are an excellent way to improve your fitness.

But most importantly, EMMS International’s challenges are different as they give you the chance to visit the hospital that will benefit from your sponsorship. Walking around the hospital, and hearing the Medical Director speak about the impact all the money you have raised will have, is a wonderful feeling. It opens your eyes to the healthcare challenges that some people have to face, and you leave with such deep respect for the doctors and nurses who work under really tough conditions to serve others.

You’ve taken part in other challenge events too. If someone was doing a fundraising event for the first time, what tips would you give about to go about meeting that all important fundraising goal?

Make a quick plan that includes: how much sponsorship you think you can raise from your nearest and dearest, and then what you can do to raise the rest. Keep in mind that small-scale events can raise lots of money. I’ve held pub quizzes, clothes swaps, raffles, and game nights in the past. Other participants have had great success with fundraising through their churches: bacon butty breakfasts after a Sunday service and classical concerts.

Some people will be pleasantly surprised about how quickly they can hit the target, and others will work hard to get there – but the thing to remember is, it is attainable. With the help of family, friends, and colleagues, you can raise a life-changing amount of money!

Malawi and Scotland couldn’t be more different as places, so what impression did Malawi and the people there make on you?

Malawi is a beautiful country, and Malawians are very welcoming – there was a sense of gratitude that you have come to their country, when, really, we were the ones thankful to be there! The landscape can be stunning: I remember waking to watch the sunrise above a choppy Lake Malawi, falling asleep to the sounds of crickets and the rustle of hidden animals in Kuti Wildlife Reserve, kayaking across the lake to tiny islands, hiking up through fragrant cedar trees on Mount Mulanje and glimpsing monkeys larking about…

There is also great poverty in Malawi, with many people living on less than $1 a day. Chatting to people and realising the challenges they come up against in terms of getting an education or a job, and trying to stay healthy, is certainly a reality check.

It’s not every day that we get the chance to do something this inspiring and life-changing. What were your highlights and how did the experience shape your view on life?

Travelling to Malawi and Nepal have been definite highlights, because taking part in EMMS International’s challenges gives you the chance to see these countries from a different perspective – you get to cycle through villages and towns, sometimes off the beaten track, often in areas untouched by tourists. You see people living lives so different from yours, and yet I’ve found that even if you don’t share a common language, you can still communicate your happiness at being in their country – everyone understands a big smile and a wave!

In terms of shaping my view on life, I think it’s made me more open and pragmatic: say yes even if you think “no”, try that new food, learn a few basic words of the local language to break the ice, and trust that your body can cycle hundreds of miles and tackle hills and mountains!

In one sentence, why should I sign up to an event like Cycle Zambia 2019?

Sign up to benefit from the camaraderie that an EMMS’ group of cyclists brings, to get fitter than you thought possible, to realise your fundraising potential – you will not regret it!




Inspired by what Alison has said? Why not challenge yourself next year and take on Cycle Zambia 2019! Click here for more info.