Dunmow duo heading to Asia on cycle tour

TWO friends looking for “a way to help” others less fortunate are heading to south-east Asia to complete a challenge for two charities.

Woodlands Park resident Vashti Hodge, 47, and her friend Sarah Carless, 41, from Harlow, will cycle from Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, the largest Hindu temple complex in the world.

The challenge will see the ladies cycle 380 miles in just 12 days as they attempt to raise �7,000 for the British Heart Foundation and Breakthrough Breast Cancer Charity.

For Miss Hodge, who was born with a hole in her heart, it has been a way of proving she can do anything – and hopefully inspiring others in the same situation.

“Lots of my friends think I am brave and mad to be doing it but I hope I inspire other people with heart conditions,” she told the Broadcast.

“It has been about proving to myself that I can pretty much do anything if I put my mind to it but it’s also been a great way of raising money for our charities and awareness of our causes.

“The BHF have been very helpful and supportive and its work is so important because if there wasn’t research into heart disease I wouldn’t be here.

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“Research that saves a life or can help or prevent heart disease can only be beneficial.

“Breakthrough is also vital because we both have friends who have had and survived breast cancer. It’s a way for us to help in some way.”

The pair are just �1,000 away from reaching their �7,000 target, having asked people to fill Smartie tubes with coins. An Aloe Vera party, boot fairs and donations from family, friends, councils and the community have totted up the figure. Miss Hodge hailed the generosity as “amazing”.

Miss Hodge is now in the last stretch of an 18-month training regime as she prepares for her first major challenge which starts on October 6.

“Sarah has cycled in India, walked the Great Wall of China and climbed Ben Nevis a couple of times so I have a lot of catching up to do,” she joked.

To make a donation, visit virginmoneygiving.com/vashtiandsarah