Hitchin and Ashwell teachers cycle 500 miles in four days

Katie Strickland, Jonathan Spowart and James Woodwark set out on a 500-mile cycle to Snowden to rais

Katie Strickland, Jonathan Spowart and James Woodwark set out on a 500-mile cycle to Snowden to raise funds for the Dalit community in India. Picture: Heath Mount School - Credit: Archant

School teachers from Hitchin and Ashwell embarked on a 500-mile cycle challenge to Snowdon and back to raise £25,000 in support of the Dalit Community in India.

Katie Strickland, Jonathan Spowart and James Woodwark set out on a 500-mile cycle to Snowden to rais

Katie Strickland, Jonathan Spowart and James Woodwark set out on a 500-mile cycle to Snowden to raise funds for the Dalit community in India. Picture: Heath Mount School - Credit: Archant

Katie Strickland, from Hitchin, and James Woodwark from Ashwell were joined by Jonathan Spowart – deputy head of Heath Mount School near Watton-at-Stone – for the four-day journey which saw them pass through Hitchin and surrounding villages for the start on Friday and finish on Monday.

The Heath Mount teachers put themselves forward for the challenge – termed Ride for Rice – as part of a fundraising effort in conjunction with the school’s partnership with the Dalit community in Manvi, India.

Miss Strickland said: “Each year, a group of Year 8 children and several members of staff travel out to India to raise awareness and support the Dalit community of whom are often considered as the ‘untouchables’ in India – considered the lowest class of the Indian caste system.

“This year, Heath Mount School are hoping to raise £25,000 in order to purchase rice provisions and support those suffering the effects of catastrophic drought and flooding in Kerala.”


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Earlier this year, the Dalit communities in the Indian state Karnataka and Kerala suffered devastating flooding which claimed lives and injured many.

Meanwhile, northern Karnataka faces a severe drought and as a result villages are lacking clean drinking water.

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So far, the teachers’ Ride for Rice challenge has raised more than £5,000, a number they hope to triple.

The cycle was completed on Monday afternoon, but was not without its difficulties and setbacks.

As the trio of riders left Colwyn Bay on what was to be their third day of cycling an average of 110 miles per day, a dog ran out into the coastal road and unfortunately brought down two of the riders, causing a nasty crash.

Both of the riders were taken to hospital, with Mr Woodwark requiring surgery after suffering a bad injury to his shoulder and collarbone. Unfortunately, he was unable to continue due to the extent of his injury.

Miss Strickland and Mr Spowart pledged to continue to complete the ride for those who had already donated to the cause.

To donate, go to justgiving.com/fundraising/heathmountsnowdon500.

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