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Diocese of Carlisle officer takes on gruelling charity bike ride

A Diocese of Carlisle employee is set to take on a gruelling 1,000 mile ‘Lakes to Lakes’ bike ride fundraiser for an African primary school.

Sophie Hodge, Diocesan Stewardship Enabler, will join her husband, Jamie, for the energy-sapping trip from Ullswater to Lake Garda in Italy, during which time they will also cycle over the Alps.

In recent weeks the pair from Penrith has undertaken special training rides to help prepare for the challenge.

Sophie, 30, explained: “We expect the ride to take two and a half weeks and we’ll be cycling 50 to 60 miles every day.

“So to get ready for the trip we’ve cycled the Lakes and Dales Loop. It’s not such a long way in terms of miles but the ascents are intense on that particular circuit. It’s the hardest route we’ve cycled as part of the training build up.

“We’ve also completed the Castles and Coast route which was 100 miles a day from Newcastle to Edinburgh. During our training Jamie – who is a fitter cycle rider than I am - has learned it’s far better to cycle with me and be encouraging rather than cycle off into the distance!”

The couple will begin their fundraiser on August 16, leaving Ullswater to cycle to Newcastle before catching a ferry to Amsterdam. From there they’ll head through the Netherlands, Germany and Austria before climbing the Alps and then dropping down into Italy.

They aim to raise £2,000 in order to equip the classroom of a primary school in Malawi with the desks that are needed for the 150 pupils currently taught in it.

Earlier this year Sophie and Jamie visited the small town of Dedza, in Malawi, to see the ongoing work at an orphanage, the Molima Family Home, which they support through the Orfund charity.

The orphans – many of whom have lost their parents to AIDS – attend the local primary school but have to sit on earthen floors for their lessons. Orfund have previously funded classroom improvements and now Sophie and Jamie want to take that work further.

Sophie added: “We’ve seen the real difference that can be made to children’s education through what is a comparatively small investment. Children have to sit on damp earth floors during lessons. That kind of learning environment takes its toll, with only a quarter of primary pupils moving on to secondary school.”

Sophie and Jamie, who is also aged 30 and who works for the University of Cumbria, plan to stay at hostels as they head through Europe. But they can look forward to a more relaxing trip home.

Sophie joked: “We’ve booked a flight back to the UK. We think we will have deserved that after so much pedaling!”

To sponsor the ‘Lakes to Lakes’ challenge please visit



For further information please contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at


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