Deeside docs make French connection

ONE can only imagine the bemused look on the faces of the local Parisians as two Deeside doctors dressed in kilts cycled along the Place de la République en route to the Eiffel Tower on their last leg of an epic journey to the French capital.

Doctors Mike Steven and Sandy Rough who both work at the Banchory Group Practice at Bellfield completed a 300-mile bike ride from Edinburgh to Paris to raise money that will be used to help build a school and boarding hostel for children in Nepal.

The pair started their journey at Edinburgh Castle and headed across the Firth of Forth to catch a bumpy ferry ride from Rosyth to Zeebrugge, Belgium.

The pair then cycled through Belgium and Northern France to reach their final destination of the Eiffel Tower on September 11.

Dr Mike described the six-day journey from Edinburgh to Paris as "tiring but amazing".

He said: "We had a few obstacles and problems along the way but they all just added to the adventure. The people we met in Belgium and France were so helpful and kind to us. It was a great challenge and a great feeling when we first got a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower."

The pair were dogged by bad weather throughout the journey but the sun briefly popped out as they arrived in Paris at the end of their long trip.

Dr Mike said: "Our legs were quite sore by that stage but it was a great feeling when we finally got to Paris. There was a lovely sunset coming down, although we had only just got to the Eiffel Tower when it started raining again.

"The journey in Northern France was mainly through small villages and fields so it was quite something to arrive at this enormous cosmopolitan city knowing we had finally completed the journey."

Dr Mike has been raising money for the Helambu Project since witnessing the harsh living conditions endured by locals in Nepal when he trekked through the Sindhuplachok district of Helambu during the filming of BBC2's Extreme Dreams in the summer of 2007.

The two doctors raised about 5,000 for the Helambu Project by completing the charity cycle and the money is already being put to good use.

Dr Mike said: "The building of the school actually got underway on September 15 which is fantastic news. There are about 30 labourers working there at present. They don't have any machines and are carrying stones from the quarry to the plot themselves.

"They are hoping to have completed the building by early summer next year. I initially thought that it might take years of fundraising to build the school so this is a lot quicker than I had ever hoped for.

"With the money that we have got left we are hoping to build a health centre. The one that the people there currently use is a day's walk away and we want to build one that will be a lot closer for them."

Dr Mike added: "We have raised over 15,000 for the project in total now. I can't thank everyone in Banchory enough for their astonishing generosity."

To donate to the project send a cheque made payable to 'Helambu Project' to the Bank of Scotland, 70 High Street, Banchory, AB31 5SS. Cash can also be handed in directly to Banchory Group practice, Bellfield, Banchory, AB31 5XS marked FAO Dr Mike Steven.