Hospice charity ellenor is encouraging people to sign up to the challenge of taking part in a nine-day trek across the magnificent and dramatic sand dunes of the Sahara Desert, while raising money for local families facing terminal illness. The trek involves setting off at the speed of camels and taking in all that the Sahara has to offer. Participants will lunch on the riverbed of the Draa, camp at the oasis and climb L’erg Laher – one of the highest dunes in the region.

Among those already training for the trek is Vicki Read. ellenor cared for her two sons Sidney and Freddie, who both died aged three, from a rare genetic condition called Alpers Disease.

Vicki and Sidney“Sidney suffered constant hospital admissions and numerous tests,” says Vicki. “To get him home, we needed massive help from the ellenor team and, with their help, we gave Sidney a quality of life.”

Aged three and now with a little, healthy, sister, Sidney was due to be an angel in his nursery nativity play – but he died that morning.

“We all needed counselling to get through this dreadful time and ellenor was there to support us,” says Vicki.

Two years later, Freddie was born.

“There were no tests to find out if my daughter or new son would be affected by the same terrible disease, only time would tell,” says Vicki. “Freddie fell ill at 14 weeks and our world collapsed around us once again – but ellenor was there to support us.”

Freddie went to the same nursery as his big brother, turned three, and did get to be an angel in the nativity play. He died two months later.

“Without the support and friendship of all the ellenor team we, as a family, would never have been able to cope,” says Vicki, who now spends part of her time providing respite care to some of ellenor’s young patients.

She continues: “I’m fat, I’m unfit, I’m in my 40’s – I’ve done lazy fundraising for ellenor for years! It’s time I really showed how much this charity means to me with a huge massive challenge like a 100km trek across the Sahara Desert! To make this work I have to get fit, lose weight and do it in memory of my beautiful little boys as well as showing my daughter anything is possible if you try…”

Also signed-up for the trek is ellenor’s Head of Community, Linda Trew.

“I love these challenges, you start off as a group of strangers in a hostile environment unsure of what to expect and finish as a group of friends, exhausted and exhilarated by what you have achieved,” says Linda. “You get pushed to the limits, you see the most amazing scenery and experience unimaginable delights. It’s super tough but so rewarding. And for me, there is no better charity to do it for.”

She continues: “The challenge will last a matter of days, unlike the challenges many of our ellenor families face. If I can help to raise some money to support the great work ellenor does in caring for families facing terminal illness, then I will, and if that means I have to trek across the desert – sign me up!”

For more information about joining Vicki and Linda on the ellenor Sahara Trek, click here: www.ellenor.org/events/event-details/sahara-trek or email Hayley Brown on Hayley.brown@ellenor.org or call 01474 320007.