Downend mums take on gruelling Amazon challenge

TWO Downend mums who walked the Great Wall of China felt that their charity trek was “not challenging enough”.

So they contacted an extreme adventure company for their next fundraising effort – kayaking 400 miles in the Amazon.

After months of gruelling training, Sue Evans and Ruth Poole are beginning to wonder if they have been foolhardy.

But there is little doubt that the determined pair will complete the 17-day trip in July, which they are paying for themselves.

It will involve 11 days of kayaking through Peru and two days trekking through the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. The women will mainly be sleeping under the stars. They expect to have to contend with snakes and spiders and hope to avoid having to capsize in the piranha-infested waters.

Sue said: “I am not a lover of insects and the idea of ‘wild camping’ fills me with horror. Nearly three weeks without a proper shower or the use of a hair-dryer will be interesting and, again, way outside my comfort zone.”

But whatever happens, friends say they expect Sue to maintain her lipstick throughout!

In the past, she has run the London Marathon, completed several half marathons and 10k races, skydived, abseiled, and conquered the Three Peaks Challenge.

All her efforts have been to raise money for the charity CLIC Sargent, which supported her family when her daughter Sophie was diagnosed with cancer at just eight months old and given a 40 per cent chance of survival.

Sophie is now a healthy 15-year-old, although she has some permanent problems as a result of the surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Sue said: “I owe CLIC Sargent a debt of eternal gratitude. The care they provide for families such as us is immeasurable.”

Sue had never kayaked before so she and Ruth have had to learn the sport, first in a pool-based club then out on canals and rivers.

Ruth is taking part in the challenge in support of St Rose’s School in Stroud where her 15-year-old daughter Cerys, who has cerebral palsy, is a pupil.

She is full of praise for the staff for the positive way they view children with significant physical disabilities, “celebrating what they can do rather than focusing on what they cannot do”.

“The physical challenge and pushing myself to the limits of my stamina and capability is a fundamental part of this expedition,” said Ruth.

“I know that however tough some of the days on the river will be, they will not come close to what these children face every day - the difference being that after 17 days my challenge will be done; not so for them.”

The friends, who met as nurses at Frenchay Hospital more than 20 years ago, start their adventure on July 10.

They and their daughters raised £200 with a biscuit-icing stall at Page Park fun day last month.

To support them, visit www.justgiving.com/sue-evans2013 and www.justgiving.com/Ruth-Poole-kayak-amazon-challenge

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