Freedom from Torture - The downs and ups of our 400-mile cycling challenge for survivors of torture

The downs and ups of our 400-mile cycling challenge for survivors of torture

We had it all planned. Just before Easter, we would be setting off from our home near Launceston to begin our 400-mile fundraising cycle challenge across Cornwall and Devon in aid of Freedom from Torture.

Blog by Carolyn Burch and Richard Raggett, Freedom from Torture supporters.

We are a former publisher (Carolyn) and accountant (Richard) but when we stopped work last summer a top priority was to plan and carry out this fundraiser ride.

Unfortunately, a week before we were due to leave Richard was laid flat by labyrinthitis, a virus which affects your balance and vision. But our enthusiasm was unaffected: we would still do our ride! We decided to swap some arrangements, to start off in Devon and do our Cornwall route afterwards.

Now we will start on 27 April and after we reach Exeter on 13-14 May, return home for one day, then tackle the Cornwall section. We will finish at Marazion on 21 May, by joining a Freedom From Torture fundraising Open Garden Day at Tremenheere Sculpture Garden, having cycled roads and trails along the coast and across the countryside.

We’ve always enjoyed cycling, but in quite a leisurely way – the only long-distance we’ve done is along the Danish west coast, so the Devon and Cornwall geography is a little more challenging! The gym has becoming our second home!

We live in North Petherwin on the border of Devon and Cornwall and we are both Quakers, members of a Quaker Meeting in Tavistock. Our route is designed to visit all the Quaker groups, and the two cathedral cities, in the two counties, raising awareness and funds among Friends and friends as we go.

We have already covered one or two Cornwall events which were pre-booked. For example, we were outside Truro Cathedral on Saturday 22 April and met with Friends in St Austell and Wadebridge. The support we have received has been both enthusiastic and sympathetic to our challenge.

We have done holiday hosting through Freedom from Torture for several years, and we know from these personal encounters that Freedom from Torture does tremendous work, bringing hope, health and the chance to rebuild their lives, to individual refugees and asylum seekers who have undergone torture in their own countries.

We’ve been privileged to live and work in a peaceful surroundings for years, and when our Freedom from Torture guests come to stay for just one week of tranquillity and relaxation away from London, it makes us re-appreciate how lucky we are to be within reach of sea and green scenes.

The individuals we have come to know - from a range of places from rural Sri Lanka to the cities of the Democratic Republic of Congo - have loved the chance to walk by the sea, have a picnic on Dartmoor, or get a glimpse of farming life here. It is a tiny part of the healing process which Freedom from Torture manages to achieve through their empathy and expertise.

Follow Carolyn and Richard, send them a message of support and donate to support their epic ride at: www.justgiving.com/cycle4Freedom

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