Pedal power has generated cash for Aids charity

Riders (from left) Paul Swinburne, Tom Pizzey,  Mark Child and Ian Luckett
Riders (from left) Paul Swinburne, Tom Pizzey, Mark Child and Ian Luckett
Portsmouth & Southsea railway station by Andy Cooper

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When Mark Child saw first-hand the work that an Aids charity carries out in Africa, he knew taking part in a charity bike ride for the cause was well worth it.

The 48-year-old completed the London to Hayling Island bike ride to raise money for HopeHIV.

He was joined by 58 other riders who all took on the 70-mile course.

Together they raised more than £37,000.

Mark, vice-president of information systems at software company QlikTech, said: ‘Each year, about 25 of us from the company go to Sweden and take part in a 300km bike ride around Lake Vattern.

‘Then in March I went to Malawi to see what is done out there.

‘It was an amazing experience to see what is achieved.’

The charity supports 50,000 children and young people in sub-Saharan Africa, who have been orphaned or affected by HIV or Aids.

Money raised for the charity goes towards helping to give these children a better future.

It includes education in sexual health, child rights and self-development.

It also goes towards buying bicycles so that peers can get a wider reach into the community to support more people.

‘There are a lot of people under the age of 18 who are looking after other children because HIV and Aids has wiped out an entire generation,’ added Mark, of Park Lane, Fareham.

‘They live in some of the most abject poverty.

‘But what I like about the charity is it helps people to become sustainable.

‘It looks at giving people life skills, such as being entrepreneurial. It’s more than just taking money from the wealthy west, but teaching them to be self-sustainable for when the project leaves.’

QlikTech has been affiliated with HopeHIVfor a few years and organises a bike ride from Paris to Hayling.

But this is the first time a London route was held.

Cyclists started in Richmond Park, London, and went through Guildford, Haslemere, on to Rowlands Castle and Havant before reaching Hayling Island.

The cycle ride, which took place in September, started at 8.30am, and got to Hayling Island for around 4pm.

‘I didn’t realise quite how beautiful the route was,’ added Mark.

‘This is something we will be doing again next year.

‘It’ll become a regular feature in our calendar and I would like to visit another African country.’

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