King’s Lynn cafe owner takes on Women V Cancer African ride

Maria Hooker from the Filling Station King's Lynn charity cycle ride ANL-150903-140147009

Maria Hooker from the Filling Station King's Lynn charity cycle ride ANL-150903-140147009

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A cafe owner will be swapping the hot plate of Lynn for the hot sun of Africa when she takes on a 400km fundraising bike ride.

Maria Hooker will be in need of a Filling Station when she is biking in Tanzania as part of the Women V Cancer Cycle Africa ride during October.

Miss Hooker has been inspired to take on the challenge after a number of friends have been affected by cancer.

But she needs to raise £3,000 for the charity, which supports women with breast, cervical and ovarian cancer.

Miss Hooker, who won the Independent Retailer of the Year trophy at last week’s Mayor Awards , said: “Half of the 10 or 11 people working at the cafe have a either a parent, friend or partner with cancer. It is such a staggering statistic I thought I would do something about it.

“I went to a talk in St Thomas Hospital to learn more about the ride. There were women on stage giving talks about losing their daughter to cervical cancer. I thought if they can stand there and talk about these things I can get on my bike.”

Starting in Moshi, the route takes in West Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Tarangire National Park and LakeManyara National Park. It will end in the Ngorongoro Gate, which is known as the Garden of Eden.

Riders, who will be covering distances of between 39km and 98km a day, will be experiencing life in a Maasai village along with admiring the variety of wildlife.

Miss Hooker said: “The ride finishes in an extinct crater which is now home to a variety of animals like rhinos and zebras. I’m really looking forward to it.

“It is going to be a completely different experience.”

Miss Hooker began training for the challenge in January but the biggest challenge she will face is the heat.

She said: “I have to think about what I’m doing it for and that will push me on.”

Miss Hooker has organised a number of events to reach her fundraising target.

A quiz will be held at The West Norfolk Pub in Heacham on Monday, March 30, at 7pm.

She will also be opening her cafe in Norfolk Street during the Grand East Anglia Run on Sunday, May 3, to raise money for the charity.

If you can also donate via www.justgiving.com/Maria-Hooker/