Westleton/Rendelsham: Saharan trek planned in memory of Rick Powling, former White Horse landlord, and St Elizabeth Hospice

Naomi Hodges and Jennie Powling will be trekking across the Sahara desert in aid of St Elizabeth Hospice Naomi Hodges and Jennie Powling will be trekking across the Sahara desert in aid of St Elizabeth Hospice

Friday, July 11, 2014
1:01 PM

The widow of a pub landlord is planning a trek across the Sahara desert to raise funds for the hospice that cared for him during his final days.

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Jennie Powling, 63, will battle blistering heat and freezing nights as she spends four days traversing sand dunes from the foothills of the Atlas mountains into the Saharan wilderness. The fundraising expedition, held in aid of St Elizabeth Hospice in Suffolk, will also involve two days spent helping out at a respite care project in Marrakech.

Mrs Powling, whose husband Rick was cared for by the hospice before his death from brain cancer in July 2012, has already raised thousands of pounds for the charity as thanks for its “wonderful” work.

The couple used to run the White Horse in Westleton, where Mr Powling was described as a “popular and charismatic” landlord, whose dream had always been to own a pub.

Much of Mrs Powling’s initial fundraising was carried out at the White Horse, and after moving to Rendlesham she was determined to find new ways to support the hospice and keep her husband’s memory alive. Joined by Naomi Hodges, who worked at the pub and was an “enormous help” during Mr Powling’s illness, the pair decided to enrol on the Saharan fundraising expedition along with about a dozen other charity supporters.

The group will face extreme temperatures, which can reach 40C during the day and dip below freezing at night, and are expected to cover up to 20km a day, camping out each night under canvas tents.

“It’s going to be quite an adventure but people live like this all the time so I think it will do us the world of good to see what other people have to face,” Mrs Powling said. “It’s not something I ever expected to do but it’s for a great cause and they are desperately in need of the funding.”

In preparation for their trip, which departs on October 18, the pair have held monthly fundraisers since the start of the year, amassing almost £4,000 in donations through coffee mornings, musical events and quiz nights.

Mrs Powling said she was determined to support the charity, having witnesses the “fantastic” support it offered her family. “I know Rick felt extremely safe there and also felt it was a great weight off my shoulders,” she said. “They don’t just look after the patient they look after the family and friends as well and places like that are desperately in need.”

Mrs Powling said her husband’s dream had always been to run a pub in Suffolk, and although his death was an unexpected tragedy, he had enjoyed living life to the full while working at the White Horse.

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