After leaving Qatar, I decided to combine my passion for cycling with my love of Yemen and the Yemeni people and take on a big cycling challenge to raise money for the Save the Children Yemen Crisis Appeal.
I am cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats – one end of the UK to the other, approximately 1000 miles!!
All funds raised will go towards helping malnourished children, providing water tanks and hygiene kits and other vital work to protect vulnerable children and their families.
While working in Qatar for the Al Jazeera Media Network, I made friends with many people from the region, most notably Yemen. When one of my friends invited me to visit his country in 2014, I jumped at such a unique opportunity. The hardest part was persuading the Yemeni Ambassador in Qatar to grant me a visa but after a nice cup of tea, and a chat about our mutual Russian experiences (for another blog!!), I was on my way.
I was apprehensive, given the risk to westerners of kidnap, but I travelled happily with no issues and had the most incredible time. I met the kindest, warmest and most generous people during my visit to the poorest nation in the Gulf. Fighting was already ongoing at a local level and I could feel the tension on the ground with a strong security presence everywhere. At one point, the shopping mall we were in was evacuated and shots could be heard outside.
Only a few short months later, Sierra Castle, which you see me standing on above, was bombed when the Saudi Coalition began their offensive against the Houthis. Aden Airport was totally destroyed and all ports of entry in and out of the country were closed. 5 years later and still there are no commercial flights in or out of the country, which means that vital food and medical supplies cannot get in and the sick and dying cannot get out.
My 1000 mile ride will take me approximately 25 days, through some of the UK’s most breathtaking scenery and some steep hills! But whenever I feel the pain, I will remember the suffering of the Yemeni people in what has become the world’s forgotten war, with vulnerable children bearing the brunt.
The UN has described the situation in Yemen as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. You can support my efforts via my Just Giving Page