Off on the road to leprosy relief

26 December 1997

Off on the road to leprosy relief

WHEN Farmlife met Wendy Wallis and Angela Dawson back in June, the 350-mile sponsored cycle ride they were to undertake in India seemed a long way off. But come Jan 24 these Cornish farmers wives and their trusty bikes head for the poorest state in India to pedal in the heat and dust to aid the relief of leprosy.

The women have put some serious effort into training and fund-raising. Wendy, from Penventon Farm, Helston, is fitting in four 30-mile rides a week plus a 60-70-mile ride every fortnight. Angela, from Methleigh Lodge, Porthleven, is working to a schedule organised by her husband Mike. This has included cycling the West Country Way where she pedalled for eight hours in continuous rain on one day, and a taxing off-road experience of travelling the South Downs Way.

Angela and Wendy, who both have grown-up children, are covering all their expenses themselves so that every penny they raise will go to combatting this dreadful disease through the work of the charity LEPRA.

Car boot sales, cream teas and barbecues, a barn dance, raffles and a treasure hunt are bringing in funds. More will come when they complete their journey thanks to sponsorship received from farming businesses and individual readers of farmers weekly, including very generous sponsorship from a lady in Sweden.

They are confident they will cope with the miles in India provided they can avoid the dreaded "Delhi belly" but less certain of how they will react emotionally when they meet the patients at the leprosy hospital at Hoina. Patients here are offered new hope to prevent blindness (surgery cost is just £7) and correct claw hands – both the results of this dreadful disease.

The money Angela and Wendy raise will help many people – the treatment to cure leprosy costs just £21 a person – yet 60,000 new cases occur every year among some of the poorest people on earth.

If you feel you can contribute to the effort to cut these figures, phone Angela (01326-563760), Wendy (01326-572714) or LEPRA (01206-562286).

Wendy Wallis (above left) and Angela Dawson will wave goodbye to Cornwall shortly to cycle for charity in the heat and dust of Indias poorest region.

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