December 8 2013 Latest news:
By Chris Hill
Friday, October 18, 2013
An intrepid group of every-day adventurers has succeeded in an epic motorbike ride up the spine of Vietnam – raising more than £13,000 for cancer charities.
The Long Way Up team, comprising six Dereham friends including a builder, plumber, electrician and three retained fire-fighters, completed their once-in-a-lifetime challenge in 14 days in July.
The 2,500km journey from Ho Chi Minh City, in the south of the country, to the capital city of Hanoi, in the north, meant riding for 12 hours a day on budget bikes along rough-paved and pot-holed roads.
Along the way, they endured 16 punctures, six failed batteries, equipment breakdowns, withering humidity and monsoon rains.
On Tuesday, after collecting all the donations from friends, family and commercial sponsors, they handed over an impressive £13,104.62 to be shared between MacMillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK.
The idea came about last year when 39-year-old Jay Spalding – the premises manager at Dereham Neatherd High School and a retained fire-fighter in the town – saw a BBC Top Gear programme on the ride along the Vietnam coast road.
He said: “It is an absolutely unbelievable landscape and the people were lovely. The Vietnamese people had nothing but they were all so friendly.
“But they were long days in the saddle. The roads were full of potholes, it rained so hard and everything just fell off the bikes by the end. It was exhausting.
“When we did finish, the adrenaline from it all was incredible. When I got back I thought to myself that this was an amazing thing we had done, but we will never do it again. It was once in a lifetime.
“I am proud of how much we all raised, but the memories of that achievement will always stay with me.
“We all want to say a big thank-you to the friends, families and companies who sponsored us. Watch this space for the next one.”
The team members bought their own motorbikes in the hectic metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City for about £400 each and sold them at the other end of their bruising journey for about half the price.
They also paid for all their own travelling expenses, so every penny raised will go to the charities.
Mr Spalding’s fellow team members were: Chris Welling, 38, an electrician from Toftwood; Mark Brewster, 42, a postman and retained fire-fighter from Wordsworth Drive in Dereham; Adrian Drew, 33, a builder from Mattishall; Neil Powell, 41, a plumber from Toftwood; and Stuart Baxter, 54, who works for Norfolk’s Children’s Service and has spent 29 years as a retained firefighter
Mr Baxter said: “When you think about it, the generosity of people has been amazing for £13,000 to have been generated by six acquaintances from Dereham.”