A group of NHS staff in the region are taking on a cycle challenge up the Himalayas to help raise money for charity.
The 11 health professionals from the NHS foundation trusts of North Tees and Hartlepool, South Tees Hospitals and County Durham and Darlington, as well as a GP from Gateshead and two friends in India, will be biking nearly 350 miles in 12 days.
The expedition of five passes up the famous mountain is part of a large fundraising challenge for each of the three health trust’s charities, as well as a diabetes charity.
The group will start in Manali in northern India and end in Leh with the trip including the Umling La pass, which at more than 17,500ft.
Diwakar Subramani, consultant in anaesthetics at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are really excited to be taking part in this amazing challenge – all in aid of our own individual charities.
“The big unknown of this challenge will be the altitude sickness some of us may experience by being at such a height.
“But this is what makes this such an exciting experience – and it is one that is for such worthy causes.”
Manjunath Kambalimath, consultant in paediatrics at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said: This expedition isn’t just about the mountain passes, one look at the Gata loops with all its 21 curves is enough to send a chill down your spine.
“We will be going through one of the highest and coldest deserts in the world, will have a constant panoramic view of snow laden peaks and the glory of the many distinctly-coloured rivers.
Naveen Siddaramaiah consultant physician and endocrinologist at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are so excited for what’s ahead and are determined to raise as much money as we can for our respective charity causes. We know the difference our charities make for patient care at each of our health trusts. NHS charities really do make a difference to the care we can give our patients.”
Dr Deepak Harinathan who is a dental surgeon across the Tees Valley and North East, said
“We are now training very hard – with plans to complete the coast to coast ride next month – the nature of our jobs makes it hard but our families have been so supportive and have made it all possible!
The group formed around seven years ago – it was their plan to do this cycle in 2020 but due to the COVID pandemic it was cancelled.
Some of the group instead cycled from London to Paris – but in February 2023 they decided this was the year they were going do it in the NHS 75th year.
The group are taking on the challenge from 16 September – 27 September
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You can also text NHSCYCLE, followed by your donation amount (£2-£20), to 70085.