Cheeki Rafiki

MORE than £4,000 has been raised for Sailability at Frensham Pond in memory of the Farnham based skipper of the British yacht Cheeki Raiki that went missing in the north Atlantic earlier this year. Charlie Edwards and two of his friends cycled from London to Paris in 24 hours to raise money for a charity close to the heart of their boyhood friend Andrew Bridge.

Andrew, as well as James Male, Paul Goslin and Steve Warren, were sailing across the Atlantic in May when their boat Cheeki Rafiki began taking on water about 1,000 miles off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Contact was lost with the crew and a US Coastguard led air and sea search discovered the capsized boat but found no sign of its missing crew.

After coming to terms with the loss of their friend, cyclists Charlie, Lester Hill and Freddie Nelson - with support from Ben Bishop and Joe Sedgwick, set off from outside the Houses of Parliament at 3am on Saturday 27th September and arrived in Paris just after midnight. They cycled more than 230 miles in all traffic and weather conditions raising more than £4,000 for Sailability, which provides sailing opportunities for people of all ages, disabilities and illnesses.

Charlie, who works for Southern Electric Power Distribution (SEPD), explained why the three lads put their bodies through such a gruelling test.

"We'd all grown up together in Farnham and Andrew was a great friend of ours. We wanted to do something in his memory, something which would help the charity closest to his heart, Sailability at Frensham Sailing Club. Sailability helps to get people with a wide spectrum of disabilities to get involved in sailing and Andrew was a regular helper there, often telling us how rewarding it was to see everyone enjoying themselves on the water."

Charlie and his friends set off from London in darkness, cycled through the heat of Saturday afternoon, and then had to cope a drastic drop in temperature as they approached France. He continued:

"The whole experience was tremendous from start to finish, with some amazing scenery to help keep our minds off the fact that our bodies were beginning to develop aches and pains in places I didn't know existed. After about 8pm on Saturday when the sun had disappeared we actually began to welcome the up hills, as when we were whizzing down the other side our speed and the natural drop in temperature combined to make it feel like we were out in our shorts and t-shirts in the middle of December!"

Charlie is now back at his desk in SEPD's Vastern Road offices in Reading and, although still quite stiff from his weekend adventure, is tremendously proud of what he, Lester and Freddie have achieved.

"Before we set off we were determined to do something that Andrew would've been proud of and I think we've now achieved that without a doubt. What's fantastic is that we've also raised over £4,000 for a charity that was so close to Andrew's heart, and the donations are still coming in!"

Donations can be made by clicking on the following link: