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Cumbria students keep Beijing Biddies Tuk Tuk Challenge in the spotlight

L-R): Amon Shaw, Alex Fowkes, Sam Burton, Helen Stobart, Kate Sleath, Jessica Bracken, Edwina Sorkin, Liz Tinkler and Dom Daniel. (not in photograph: Emily Dodd)
L-R): Amon Shaw, Alex Fowkes, Sam Burton, Helen Stobart, Kate Sleath, Jessica Bracken, Edwina Sorkin, Liz Tinkler and Dom Daniel. (not in photograph: Emily Dodd)

Six students from Cumbria University are helping to keep the Beijing Biddies in the spotlight as they undertake their third and final charity challenge.

The students, who are in their second and third years, have volunteered to handle social media, take photographs, write a blog and keep a video diary of the team as they drive around Britain in two Tuk Tuks to raise money for the fight against children’s cancers.

Jessica Bracken, a third-year event management student, is responsible for creating posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, while five second year students from the university’s wildlife media, adventure media and photography programmes will follow the team of four women as they drive 1,100 miles in two motorised rickshaws in aid of Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Jess says: “I’ve always had a keen interest in getting involved with charitable events and activities and when I was given the opportunity to join the challenge team and work on something with a wider spectrum, I jumped at the chance. The previous challenges that the Biddies have undergone looked immensely invigorating, and I feel lucky to be given the opportunity to work on their final challenge and be involved in the process to raising money for two remarkable charities. I’m also having the chance to progress my social media marketing skills, as well as networking with and learning from a group of individuals from different professional backgrounds.”

Adventure media students Alex Fowkes, Amon Shaw, and Dominic Daniel, photography student Sam Burton, and wildlife media student Emily Dodd have set up their own photography and videography company, Thrown Overboard Media Co (TOMCo), and will use their expertise to create a daily blog, film and photography record of the 16-day challenge.

Alex explains: “Logistically, when following the Biddies, we are most likely to use two cars, almost ‘bunny-hopping’ the Biddies, enabling us to get footage of them on the go, from interesting angles and perspectives. We will be part of the convoy and, when not filming, we’ll be using the cars as mobile studios for sorting out footage, naming clips for editing, charging batteries and planning the next thing we need to do or film. The final documentary should be between 20 and 40 minutes in length, highlighting the amazing journey the ladies went on, including the ups and downs.”

Driving at an average speed of just 20 miles an hour for six or seven hours a day, the Beijing Biddies will set off from Carlisle on Tuesday, May 2, stopping off at Edinburgh, Newcastle, Harrogate, Cambridge, London, Merthyr Tydfil and Manchester to visit cancer centres and hospitals.

Team leader Edwina Sorkin said: “We are absolutely delighted to have such a group of enthusiastic and hard working young people on board for this challenge. Their fresh ideas and commitment to helping us achieve our aim of raising as much money as we can for children`s cancers are fantastic.”

The team of Edwina Sorkin aged 71, of Newbiggin-on-Lune, Kate Sleath (66), of Wetherby, Yorkshire, Helen Stobart (51) and Liz Tinkler (50), both of Penrith, will take turns to drive the two Tuk Tuks.

They will stick to Britain’s A and B roads in the 198cc vehicles, taking them through towns and villages where they are hoping to create quite a stir.

Edwina said: “We want people to come out and cheer us on and, hopefully, donate to our two charities.  To see a child or a young person suffering from cancer is really hard. That’s why every penny that we raise on this challenge will go to help kids and teens, so the more people that we can reach on our journey, the more money we can raise to fight this terrible disease.”

It is almost three years to the day since Edwina and Kate, calling themselves the Beijing Biddies, drove from the UK to the Chinese capital in just 29 days for the two cancer charities. Last year they were joined by Helen and Liz plus Kerrie Ellison to drive from Carlisle to the Arctic Circle with no overnight stops, completing that challenge in four days.

So far they have raised almost £80,000 for the charities and are aiming to reach over £100,000 with their latest challenge.

For more information visit www.beijingbiddies.co.uk

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