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Gruelling tuk-tuk challenge across Sri Lanka in memory of sister




A Diss couple completed a gruelling challenge of crossing Sri Lanka in a rickshaw to raise funds for the Brain Tumour Research.

Julia Fairbrother, 51, and husband Christian took on the Rickshaw Run in memory of Julia’s sister, Susan Long, who died from a brain tumour in December 2010.

The couple were joined by friends Sam Mason and Rob Waddington, from Botesdale, on the self-funded tuk-tuk challenge and travelled 777km from the west coast of Sri Lanka on October 13 to the south coast six days later.

Christian Fairbrother, Julie Fairbrother, Sam Mason and Rob Waddington.
Christian Fairbrother, Julie Fairbrother, Sam Mason and Rob Waddington.

“It was really incredible,” said Mrs Fairbrother, a youth and community worker.

“We were lucky enough to see wild elephants by the roadside, snorkel with sea turtles and other exotic marine life, visit beautiful temples and monuments, experience stunning views and scenery and drive through tea plantations in the mountains, as well as having to drive in the chaos they call everyday traffic.

“I’ve never driven anything like a tuk-tuk before, so learning that was new for me. It was nerve-wrecking but exciting at the same time.”

Susan Long who died in 2010 from a brain tumour.
Susan Long who died in 2010 from a brain tumour.

Despite enjoying their adventure, the team faced numerous challenges along the way, like torrential rain and a trip to the hospital after an encounter with an open storm drain.

“Luckily, no bones were broken,” said Mrs Fairbrother. “I only needed an X-ray and a couple of stitches.”

With little protection against the elements and no support team on hand to fix brakes or mend a puncture, organisers of the challenge had warned participants not to expect a “glorified holiday”.

The team, who returned last week, raised nearly £3,000 for Brain Tumour Research, which is enough to sponsor a day of research at one of the charity’s dedicated centres.

“I’m really pleased,” said Mrs Fairbrother. “I had not realised that we raised enough money for that.

“I would definitely do this challenge again, even though I don’t think I’ll ever overcome the nervousness of driving a tuk-tuk.”

A spokesman for Brain Tumour Research said: “Julia and the Rickshaw challenge team have raised close to £3,000, which is more than enough to sponsor a day of research at one of the dedicated centres.

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“They will be invited to tour the labs, speak to the scientists and also to put up a tile on the Wall of Hope in memory of Susy,” added the spokesman.


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