TWO women are preparing for a demanding six-day trek across parts of South East Asia in aid of the national charity Breast Cancer Now. 

Ellie Sonmezer and Penny Hutchinson will be making the 468 km journey from Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City to Angkor Wat in Cambodia by bike on April 12 next year. In preparation, they are cycling long distances throughout the UK.

Ellie is the Associate Head of the University of Gloucestershire's School of Health and Social Care and the charity is especially important to her as it helped save her life. 

She said: “I had breast cancer in 2016 and the charity supported me with education and general support. Additionally, I have several friends affected by breast cancer. Now I’m fit and well, I want to give back so that the charity can help others in their time of need.  

I would like to bring attention to the importance of people checking themselves and, if necessary, seeking early treatment to try and give themselves the best chance possible of recovery.”

The duo began their training in December 2023 and have been receiving support and advice from the University’s sport and exercise experts.

Ellie said: “Having never been to Vietnam or Cambodia, I thought the different climate, language and food would combine to make this a real challenge and worthy of sponsorship.

I am always inspired by the strength of those who have serious illnesses but carry on, so I thought that doing this could bring my strength and courage to the fore and put them to the test.

Though I really enjoy cycling and the landscape will be beautiful, I’m certainly expecting that the hot temperatures will pose a serious challenge.

We’re hoping to complete the journey in six days of cycling, and I think spending so many hours in the saddle will be the worst part, especially when you are feeling tired.”

The pair are planning to hold a series of fundraising activities such as raffles, skittles nights and wine-tasting events. You can keep up-to-date with their efforts and donate to their cause via Ellie’s JustGiving page.