On yer bike: Two-wheeled horsepower helps out working horses

Donkeys at work in Ethiopia.
Donkeys at work in Ethiopia. © The Brooke

A British father and son have used a different type of horsepower to raise money and awareness for working horses and donkeys around the world, making a 2800-mile motorcycle challenge around the United Kingdom.

Alan Joseph, 69, and his son Philip, 50, took on the ‘Steel Butts’ tour earlier this month, using the event to raise money for international charity, Brooke.

The pair joined 10 other motorbike enthusiasts from the East of England, a group called Alien Riders, for an epic ride to raise money for good causes. The route, which had been in planning for two years, started in Stowmarket, headed North East following the coast to John O’Groats , down the west coast to Wales, Devon and Land’s End, then followed the South Coast before heading back up to East Anglia. They camped most nights, carrying their entire luggage, including tents, on their bikes. As well as Brooke, the rest of the group raised money for Macmillan, British Legion and St. Elizabeth Hospice in Suffolk.

Alan Joseph, 69, said the nearly 3000-mile ride was tough - but he'd do it again.
Alan Joseph, 69, said the nearly 3000-mile ride was tough – but he’d do it again.

It was a tough ride, but Alan was upbeat after completing.

“Would I do it again? Definitely! Would my body and mind be able to do it again? Definitely not. I came back physically and mentally shattered, but what a trip it has been!” he said.

Alan and Philip Joseph at John O'Groats, Britain's northern-most point.
Alan and Philip Joseph at John O’Groats, Britain’s northern-most point.

“It was such an eventful journey, and we covered around 2800 miles. The mountain roads in the Highlands took their toll with very strong winds, driving rain and even hail. We lost two riders to mechanical failures, one who joined us in his car once he and his trike had been recovered, and one from hypothermia who is back home safe and well.

Alan has been into motorbikes for most of his life, but retired from it two years ago, giving his bikes to his sons. His eldest, Phillip, returned the favour and gave Alan back one of his bikes to do the ride. He wanted to raise money for Brooke because when living in India and Pakistan years ago he saw the plight of working horses and donkeys.

Some 100 million of these working equines around the world support the lives of around 600 million people, but suffer from exhaustion, disease, malnutrition and a lack of veterinary care.

“I’ve seen that these people don’t mean to treat the animals badly, it’s just a lack of education, and the Brooke is training communities all the time to improve the animals’ lives. I want to help them,” Alan said.

Alan has raised over £500 so far but hopes to raise more through his Justgiving page.

Find out more about fundraising for charity with the Brooke.

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