Ipswich/Africa: Trio cycle through four African countries to raise money for Mind

Jonan Boto (from Ipswich) with friends Steve Fleming and James Robinson on their bike ride through f

Jonan Boto (from Ipswich) with friends Steve Fleming and James Robinson on their bike ride through four African countries to raise money for three mental health charities. shows them at Uplands School in Nelspruit, South Africa - Credit: Contributed

Three bikes, four African countries and 1,000 miles in 24 days – all in the name of good causes.

Kari and Tom Boto

Kari and Tom Boto - Credit: Contributed

An Ipswich man accompanied by two friends has completed a gruelling challenge to raise more than £6,000 for three mental health charities.

Jonan Boto (from Ipswich) with friends Steve Fleming and James Robinson on their bike ride through f

Jonan Boto (from Ipswich) with friends Steve Fleming and James Robinson on their bike ride through four African countries to raise money for three mental health charities - Credit: Contributed

Jonan Boto and his friends Steve Fleming from New York and James Robinson from Manchester set off from Johannesburg, travelling through South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe crossing the finishing line at Victoria Falls in Zambia.

The 27-year-old said the trio aimed to raise awareness of mental health issues as well as money for Mind, The Mental Health Foundation and Basic Needs, an Africa-focused mental health charity.

The former Ipswich School pupil, who now lives in London, said the bike ride was inspired by the memory of his mum Kari Boto – who died in 2007 – and her dedication to African challenges during a career she loved at the BBC.


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Reflecting on the trip, he said: “I thought a lot about my family – Tom, Kass, Ali and Tony, and particularly, my mum, Kari.

“Her mental wellbeing suffered, which is so sad because she’s probably the most incredible woman I’ll ever know.

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“I’m sure there is a world in which she didn’t suffer so badly, one where mental health issues are identified, talked about and treated more openly – particularly in the work place to help people stop feeling isolated. The charities we are supporting are working towards that world.”

He said he would like to see every employer hold opt-out mental health workshops for their staff to help make caring for mental wellbeing the norm.

“Almost all of us will be affected by mental health conditions at one point in our lives, whether it is you, a friend or family member.

“So we all have an interest in achieving healthy minds as well as healthy bodies.”

Staying in campsites and their own make-shift camps along the road, the trio faced their own mental battles in completing the task they set themselves.

“My mum always used to say ‘what an adventure’, whether we had just got back from Sainsburys or climbed Kilimanjaro. This has been one of the best adventures I have ever been on.

“And if we can use the fun we’re having to raise money and awareness of mental issues, it will be one of the most satisfying things I’ve done.

“Thank you to everyone who donated, and special thank yous to Sarah and Lizzie Ellison and Mat Booth for their help in organising the trip.”

To donate visit www.uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/mindcycleafrica and visit www.mindcycleafrica.com for more information.

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