Running the length of Malawi is a big challenge, but two fund-raisers are currently making their way through the country to help build a science block for children.
Brendan Rendall will be jogging 650 miles, equivalent of 25 marathons, in 25 days whilst Emma Timmis, 32, will be cycling the route. The pair will be raising funds for Walmer Bridge-based charity Friends of Mulanje Orphans (FOMO).
Brendan, 37, who is one of 15 Ordnance Survey ambassadors for outdoor pursuits, entered Discovery Channel UK’s Make Your World Bigger competition and pledged to run 650 miles through Malawi. Along the way he will be encouraging children there to join him.
He said: “In 2009 I was part of an incredible team that visited FOMO, I saw first-hand the inspiring work they do.
“This inspired me to continue to support and raise money for these incredible children. I have now set the task to raise £35,000 to build a school block to extend the secondary school which opened late last year. The block will include two science labs, an art room and a general classroom.
“The land and plans are all ready, so as soon as we reach the target the building can start.”
Brendan, who lives in Salford Quays, has been running between 10 and 15 miles six days a week and then cycling 30 miles in the afternoon - with some extra running in the afternoon.
But he has not always been a runner, as he battled weight issues. But a bet soon changed all that.
He said: “My weight has always gone up and down between 13 stone and 15 stone. But approaching 17 stone was a realisation that I was hurtling towards the weight I was in my early 20s – when I had a 42 inch waist.
“So I joined slimming world in April. The weekly weigh-in helped me keep focused and the constant eating stopped. I have now got my weight back down to 14 stone.
“Running was never planned. I made a bet with friends that I would do a half marathon in 2006. That led to marathons and cycling the length of the UK in 2011 raising money for FOMO and autism.
“Between 2012 and 2014, after selling my belongings I decided to travel around the world from Asia to South America. On return in 2014 I wanted to return to Malawi and run it, So last year I did a number of marathons, ultra marathons and ran the famous Wainwright Coast to Coast 192 miles in eight days from St Bees to Robin Hoods Bay to get ready for this.”
Mary Woodworth, founder of FOMO, said: "Everyone is overwhelmed with Brendan Rendall and Emma Timmis's arrival in Malawi. The orphans are so excited and run with Brendan every morning as he makes his way from north to south. This run will help FOMO raise money to build the science block at the Orphans Secondary School. This is the best gift for the children. This is our first challenge here in Malawi and we are looking forward to it and we are very grateful for Brendan and Emma's commitment to help these vulnerable children here in Malawi."
To follow Brendan and Emma’s journey, and to donate, visit http://brendanrendall.com/running-malawi-july-2016/
FOMO, set up by Mary and Keith Woodworth, is a community based orphan care programme supporting more than 4,500 children through a network of 14 centres in Mulanje district of Malawi.
To find out more and see the incredible work they do visit http://malawiorphans.net/wordpress/?page_id=444