23 August 2002

Gruelling ride takes a break in the Capital

With less than a month to

go to the Livelihood and

Liberty March in London,

we take a look at a Cornish

farmer who is riding from

John O Groats to Lands End.

And our comprehensive

coverage continues with

details of how you can carry

a poster and win a tenner

A WELL-EARNED rest from a charity horseride the length of Britain will enable Michael Bickell to attend next months Liberty and Livelihood March.

Mr Bickell, a beef and sheep farmer from Launceston, Cornwall, will leave John OGroats on Sunday (Aug 25). With fellow rider Simon Kerslake, an equestrian supplier, he is raising money for Riding for the Disabled, the Meningitis Trust and Cancer Research UK.

The two men plan to travel 35 miles a day and reach Lands End in Cornwall on Sept 29. Mr Bickell estimates the horses will get through more than 100 shoes during journey and that blacksmith fees could exceed £1500, which the riders will pay for.

But they will take time out from their gruelling 1200-mile trek and and travel to London to support the Liberty and Livelihood March on Sept 22. On their route south, they may come across 16 alliance supporters making the stamina-sapping journey from John OGroats to London on foot.

Each runner will complete 50-60 miles in total, in stretches of 10 miles at a time, non-stop for just over five days and four nights to reach the London March.

A donation of proceeds to the team will go to the Back-Up Trust, which organises integrated courses for able-bodied and spinally-injured people.

The March will show ministers the strength of rural anger, said Mr Bickell, who is chairman of the Lamerton Hunt. "This government seems to have no regard for farming. There are huge problems with illegal meat imports, but all the government is doing is putting two extra Labradors at Heathrow Airport. Its disgusting."

Equine protests are also planned. More than 500 horses are expected to parade through Leicester today (Fri) to highlight the links between hunting and the equestrian industry. Campaigners hope to raise awareness of what they believe is a very the real threat to equine welfare in the event of a ban on hunting.

Give your support to runners and riders

&#8226 To sponsor the riders, contact Michael Bickell (078-3149 4676). Cheques made payable to MA Bickell Sponsored Ride can be sent to Mount Pleasant, Lifton, Devon PL16 0AX.

&#8226 To sponsor the runners, contact Nicola Spurway, The Scottish Countryside Alliance, East Gate, Ingliston, Edinburgh, EH28 8NF (0131-335 0200 or nicola-spurway@ countryside-alliance.org).

&#8226 To register support with the march and obtain an information pack, call 090-0102 0900. Calls cost 60p/min, max cost £1.80. Hours of operation 8am-8pm daily.

Fancy a tenner?

farmers weekly can put £10 in your pocket if you are photographed carrying one of our protest posters at the Liberty and Livelihood March in London on Sun, Sept 22.

Our photographers and journalists will be on the March looking for people carrying posters. If your photograph is published in our News or Farmlife Sections, contact us and we will send you £10 for every person in your party pictured.

So, carry your protest poster with pride. Its a great way of letting Britain and the world know how rural people feel about the treatment meted out by the government. And if we use your photograph, contact us to claim your tenner.

NUMBER CRUNCHING

&#8226 102,000 individual registrations.

&#8226 2010 chartered coaches.

&#8226 3515 reserved coach spaces.

&#8226 32 chartered trains for over 18,000 people.

Figures correct at noon on Wed, Aug 21.