A DETECTIVE faced a race against time to beat Hurricane Sandy as he battled to complete a 4,000-mile trek across America to raise funds for a hospice in memory of his friend’s daughter.

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Paul Gant, a member of Bury St Edmunds Police CID, started his trek in Astoria, Oregon, on September 16 and passed through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Virginia.

He finished in a place called Yorktown at 1am on October 29, having completed 4,447 miles in 41 days, 18 hours and 22 minutes.

But the final days of his journey were a race against the clock to beat Hurricane Sandy, the devastating storm which hit the US, which had been due to hit Virginia Beach – his final destination – in the early hours of October 29.

The 37-year-old said: “l found myself riding 369 miles in less than 48 hours and caught the southern edge of the storm, pedalling through horrendous gales and torrential rain in order to finish the trek.”

The charity ride was to raise funds for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) in memory of Ella Prouse, who lived at the time with her family in Gedding.

Ella died in May 2006 from Ependymoma, brain tumours, just a few days before her seventh birthday.

Mr Gant said: “Ella was incredibly brave. From a happy and healthy toddler, she was transformed into a shadow of her former self. But, unlike us adults, she never complained once throughout these times. Not once.

“I wanted to do the ride to raise money for EACH who help so many families with children that are extremely poorly, whether it be through terminal illness or severe disability. And of course I wanted to do this in memory of Ella.”

Mr Gant was supported in his efforts to get fit for the gruelling trip by personal trainer Aaron McCulloch at Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre where Mr Gant is a member.

Now Abbeycroft Leisure, which manages the Centre in partnership with St Edmundsbury Borough Council, has pledged to raise even more money for EACH during its 12 Days of Christmas promotion next month.

The leisure trust will donate the £12 membership joining fee from its pre-Christmas campaign to EACH.

If you would like to donate, visit: http://www.justgiving.com/Paul-Gants-TransAmerica

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