Chiswick trio get on their bikes for charity

Men cycle length of London Undergound to train for Microloan challenge

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Three lifelong friends from Chiswick - Tom Porter, Jamie Allen and Jamie Coleman - are embarking on the challenge of a lifetime to raise funds for charity.

Supported by lifestyle manager Emma Barnsdale, the three thirty-somethings – two teachers and a company director - are preparing for a 10 day marathon in Malawi this summer in which they will cycle their way to the north of Lake Malawi, visiting some of the charity’s projects en route.

Aware that this will be a testing physical challenge, they have hit on a novel way of getting fit and over the next few months they will cycle the full length of the London Underground – overground. Line by line, end to end, visiting all the stations on each route, they hope that this will raise awareness of their fundraising, help them to attract corporate sponsorship and improve the level of their own physical fitness.

“The three of us used to cycle to Chiswick School together,” says 32-year old company director Tom Porter, the co-founder of pedalo, a W4 based design and web development agency. “In fact we all still cycle to work. And aware of the importance of cycling to daily life in Malawi, where a bicycle is still something of a luxury for many people, a cycling challenge seemed the obvious thing to do.”

Tom taught English at a township in South Africa before going to university and he and Pedalo Limited’s co-founder Guy Courtney first got involved with the MicroLoan Foundation charity after reading about it in a local magazine. “Pedalo offered to build and maintain a website for the charity,” says Managing Trustee Peter Ryan. “They have done a terrific job and we are enormously grateful to them. Having a professionally designed website with such dedicated support has made a huge difference. We now have enquiries and supporters from all over the world.”

The MicroLoan Foundation, a Chiswick-based registered charity, makes small loans of between £15 and £100 to groups of women in Malawi to enable them to set up small businesses and become self sufficient for their daily needs. One of the charity’s patrons, sports presenter Gabby Logan, was there to see the team off for the first stage of their Underground Overground challenge at the District Line terminus in Richmond and wish them luck.

The participants have pledged to meet all expenses incurred in the expedition themselves and so all money donated in sponsorship will go to support the charity.

March 21, 2006