Thursday, May 1, 2014

Cumbria's ‘Beijing Biddies’ are off on 8,500-mile trip to China

Edwina Sorkin, 68, and Kate Sleath, 63, leave Cumbria on the start of their epic effort to raise £150,000 for cancer charities.

The two will be waved off by Ford World Rally driver Elfyn Evans, friends, family and supporters as they start their 30-day expedition today.

As Cumbria’s own ‘Thelma and Louise’, the pair will be travelling in a seven-year-old Nissan Pathfinder 4x4, which has been specially adapted for the trip, with off-road tyres to cope with the hostile terrain as they travel through Northern Europe, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Siberia and Mongolia to China.

The two, who were former neighbours in Wetherby, North Yorks, have been taking courses in advanced driving skills, off-road driving and car maintenance.

Edwina, from Kirkby Stephen, said: “It was important that the vehicle is mechanical rather than electronic, unlike most modern cars, so that if anything goes wrong while we’re abroad, local mechanics will hopefully be able to fix what we can’t.

“Our vehicle is looking quite full with all the car accessories, camping equipment and other essentials that have very kindly been donated by local companies, including Lyon Outdoor.

“We have Jerry cans, bottles of screen wash, oil, power steering fluid, ropes, ratchets, ladders, a folding shovel, as well as a large water container and cases of water. We’ve even packed 48 toilet rolls.”

Kate said they had boxes of chocolate bars donated but, with limited space, they had to limit their clothes and toiletries.

“It is going to be hard to keep up our usual well-groomed appearance as we head East,” she said.

Edwina, a widow, decided she wanted to take on a personal challenge and, after reading about the famous Peking to Paris classic car rally, came up with the idea of driving to Beijing.

She and Kate decided to raise funds for cancer charities having seen the effect it had.

Edwina’s daughter Deby, 42, was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago.


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