Town fan takes to two wheels for epic trek in memory of school friend
- Credit: Roo Clark and James Cotton will be cycling 8,000 miles in aid of four charities, including the Charlie Watkins Foundation. Picture: ROO CLARK
Two friends have set off on an 8,000-mile journey across South America to raise money for a mental health service in memory of their fellow school friend Charlie Watkins.
Roo Clark, from Stutton, and former school friend James Cotton, from Northamptonshire, are embarking on a 130-day challenge from Argentina to Colombia – spending 10 hours a day on two wheels with their only shelter being a tent.
The pair, both 23, set off on the endurance trip today aiming to raise £20,000 for four charities close to their hearts, including the Charlie Watkins Foundation.
Mr Watkins, from Higham near Colchester, was a school friend of both Roo and James for many years before he sadly took his own life in March 2017. His suicide has prompted the launch of an online forum called Chat with Charlie , which was spearheaded by Charlie’s twin brother Harry to raise awareness of mental illness.
Roo, a recent graduate of Bristol University, said: “At university the mental health support services were bursting at the seams and they couldn’t cope with the number of people who needed help and support.
“The Charlie Watkins Foundation is really important to me. The service currently operates at the University of Essex and is hopefully going to be rolled out across other universities across the country including the university of York where Charlie was a student.
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“It is amazing that something so good has come out of something so tragic,” added Roo.
The pair have been training for the challenge for the past four months, but Roo says no matter how prepared they are they still won’t know exactly what to expect over coming months.
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Their ‘Top2Toe’ journey sees them travel through the Andes, the world’s longest mountain range, completely unsupported and carrying up to 50kgs of kit in extreme altitudes up to 4,800 metres.
Roo, who is a huge Ipswich Town fan, will be taking his blues shirt with him, wearing it at different points of the trip and praying they avoid relegation.
Speaking of the challenge, Roo said: “We are really excited but it’s not going to be a holiday – we are going to push ourselves everyday because we are doing it for four important charities. We won’t have any rest days over the four and a half months.”
The pair will also be raising money for War Child, Midlands Air Ambulance and SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society).
You can donate to their chosen charities here.