After tying the knot in April this year, the couple decided to organise a honeymoon during teacher Hazel’s half-term break in October. Instead of a relaxing break in a tropical country, they decided they wanted to take on a challenge for charity.
Matthew first began fundraising for charity in 2005. After his father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, he took on a marathon in Beirut to raise funds for the Parkinson's Disease Society. Last year, he completed a triathlon for a local children’s hospice.
After consideration, the couple decided to take their bikes to Lebanon. Cycling 300 miles in just three days, they trained for several months to build up to the trip. The couple chose to fundraise for SOS Children and set the target of raising £2,000 for our work in the country, where we have four SOS Children’s Villages.
Matthew says: “I was very fortunate to have had been brought up in a loving, caring family. How you are treated as a child shapes your actions as an adult; SOS Children was the logical option.” He was keen to raise money for a country which he had traveled to in the past. “I’ve been very fortunate, I’ve been to a lot of places but I’ve not really done much apart from being a tourist. So I knew I wanted to give something back and specifically help with children,” he says.
Matthew says it wasn’t hard to convince his new wife Hazel to join him on the trip, despite the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advising against all but essential travel to Lebanon: “I think initially she envisaged our honeymoon being on a beach, but once I’d decided I was doing it Hazel wanted to join me too.”
Bike Generation in Beirut generously provided the couple with bikes, as well as a support vehicle and driver. On 29 October the couple completed their challenge. Matthew says that although the trip was at times difficult, it was a positive experience: “A combination of hot weather and climbing up to altitudes of above 1,000 metres ensured that the three days were gruelling, but well worth it.” They visited three of the four Lebanese SOS Children’s Villages over their three day trip (see photo, right). Their visit to the fourth Village in Bekaa Valley had to be left out for security reasons. Matthew says: “It was an honour, and incredibly humbling, to meet the children and SOS mothers at the Villages. They deserve all of the recognition and support available!”
You can visit Matthew and Hazel’s Virgin Money Giving page: http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/soslebanon
Find out more about taking on a challenge of a lifetime for SOS Children.