Brian and Kate have been avid supporters of Mission Rabies since their time with us in Goa in 2016. They’re not just volunteers; they’ve also taken on the Great Wall of China and now the Land’s End to John O’Groats Cycle Challenge to fundraise for us!! Here’s Brian to tell you more!
Let me introduce ourselves. We are Brian and Kate, two GP vets from the Bristol area with a fair number of years’ experience in general practice and more recently, small animal practice.
We first became aware of Mission Rabies and the work that they do at BSAVA in April 2014 when the mobile veterinary truck was there.
From there, the idea of volunteering on a Mission Rabies project began to formulate! I suppose we had two driving reasons. Firstly, having been in the profession for a long time we had skills that could be utilised in the field and secondly, the ethos of being part of a drive to eliminate rabies had a special appeal. I also had another reason. My father had lived in India and was bitten by a dog and had to have the post-exposure injections!
We decided to sign up for a two-week vaccination drive in Goa in October 2016. Our fundraising revolved around trekking the Great Wall of China. We trekked 70 miles on various parts of the Wall, often in splendid isolation, staying in farmhouse type accommodation along the way. It was a real challenge and an incredible experience. We then travelled onto Xian to see the Terracotta warriors which was a truly awesome sight.
Following our fundraising, which was a combination of friends and family giving via our JustGiving page and the generosity of clients in the surgery, we travelled to Goa for a two-week stint of an intensive dog vaccination programme. This was to augment and boost the amazing work being done year-round by Mission Rabies in their ongoing vaccination drive in the state. With the six teams involved we managed to vaccinate 6,000 dogs!! The days were long and the working conditions at times challenging but it was a fantastic experience and one that I would recommend to anyone! We certainly saw the ‘true side’ of Goa and it was so worthwhile.
The Mission Rabies team out there were great and made us feel very welcome and valued and the Goans were very appreciative of what we were trying to do. As the teams came back at the end of each day with the numbers of dogs that they had vaccinated, there was a great sense of purpose and achievement and we all felt that we were making a difference to some very needy people, not to mention the improvement in canine health.
Having returned, we felt that we would like to continue our connection with Mission Rabies and fundraise again. This year we decided to cycle the 1,000 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 11 days. It was a challenge that seemed to strike a chord as we received very generous support from all whom we talked to - not only friends and family - but clients as well.
As with all challenges, the training is important to help achieve the goal but also to enjoy the challenge. Our training started in earnest on Jan 1stthis year and gave us six months before we set off in June. One thing that we had not factored in was the weather! We were having to cycling in some pretty foul weather but we reasoned that the hills would not be any the less fierce despite the bad weather so we just had to get on with it. Wrapping our feet in tin foil to try to keep them warm was one trick that we learned!!
The actual cycle ride was tough at times with a few 100-mile days to contend with and some fairly steep hills, but when it got hard we just dug in, thought of why we were doing it and looked for that second or third wind to get us through. The sense of achievement was immense!!
We had posters printed with details of the challenge and the charity to put up at the surgery. In addition, we had business cards made up with the challenge, the name of the charity and most importantly the JustGiving web address so when we talked to someone we could hand out a card as a little memory jogger when they found it in their pocket at a later date and inspired them to donate. We also sent an email with a picture of us before and after the challenge as a ‘thank you’ for their support. For those for whom we did not have an email address we had a flyer printed with pictures, a thank you note and the amount we raised which we posted. Our local printers were very supportive and charged minimally so we put their name on the flyers as a thank you to them.
Mission Rabies is a great charity with a very laudable aim. It employs some very dedicated people and they deserve all the support we can give them.
From all of us at Mission Rabies we'd like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to Brian and Kate for their awesome support!!