Monday, 18 July 2011

Rev Claire does Egypt for Mencap

Claire Isherwood  on the Mencap Nile Bike Ride. Talking to some Egyptian Children she met at a water stop in Feb 2000

Claire in Egypt on a 500km cycle in aid of Mencap

We’ve blogged already about our Iron Man Curate, our Helmand Padre and Vicar, and our Youth Director’s experience in China. So we thought it was about time we covered the other members of the team at St Paul’s. This week, I interviewed Rev Claire ‘Cycle Egypt’ Isherwood (Assistant Curate), to find about the charity cycle ride she did for Mencap in 2000.

Do you have time for hobbies and interests?  

There's not much time for these, but I do love being outdoors.  We have a large garden I enjoy looking after, I love walking the dog, and camping and have even taken up jogging in the last couple of years.  Quieter moments give me time for reading and spending time with family and friends, which is very important to me. 

Tell me about the charity bike ride you did in Egypt, how did you get involved?

Claire Isherwood finishing the longest day (25 miles) of the Mencap Nile Bike Ride At the time I was a teacher, and had a child who had been diagnosed with Down's Syndrome in my class. Mencap, the charity for people with learning disabilities, was a good cause, and I wanted to do something I had never done before.

The ride took one week, and I cycled 500km, with 114 strangers, and my brother (who took no notice of me!). I raised £3000 for the charity. Raising the sponsorship was the hard part.



Map of Egypt - Courtesty of Sun International Tourism The route started in Luxor, and headed down the west bank of the Nile through the desert and the rice fields. Then crossed over the river, and cycled up to the Aswan dam. Back up the east bank to Luxor, ending up on the final day cycling up to the Valley of the Kings, finishing at the Nile bank. I felt saddle sore, but elated at the end of the ride.

Did you come away a different person in some way?

Yes.  I came to realise that it wasn't about finishing each day up with the main body of the pack, but it was about cycling at the back with those who were fighting the weakness of their bodies to get through to the end, and keeping going even when they were all in and were suffering from the dreaded Nile runs.  I was humbled by their strength and courage, and filled with an awareness of the privilege of being able to help and encourage them, along with others who chose to remain at the back for the same reasons.

Would you do it again?

Might do!  The memory of the aches and pains has probably faded sufficiently by now.  At the moment I make do with sometimes cycling up Church Hill  to get to St Paul's!

Next time, we chat more about Claire’s family, her role at St Paul’s, and what makes her tick.