When North Essex resident Gert van Kerkoerle contacted Diabetes UK to say he wanted to organise a fundraising event, they expected him to host a coffee morning. But the 44 year-old surprised them with his vision for the Sugarrun – a motorbike and sidecar round-tl1p ride from his Great Bentley home to the Arctic CIrcle.
He said: “When I mentioned the Arctic Circle, they couldn’t believe it.”We’re keen bikers and I do an average of 25,000 miles a year. We go biking in the snow in Austria and all that sort of thing. “We thought why not take it to the extreme and see some proper snow.”
Gert, who runs the J A 4×4 garage in Great Bentley, will set off on Thursday, August 21 on a three week round trip with girlfriend Katrin Dittrich and their friend Rob Merryfield, of High Wycombe, who has’ just been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
After visiting Gert’s family in Eindhoven, Holland, the trio will travel through Germany and Denmark before reaching Sweden. They will then either take the western Arctic Highway or travel the Google route to Nordkapp, on the Norwegian coast, inside the Arctic Circle.
As it is summertime, temperatures should only be just below freezing.
The return trip will include a ferry trip from Oslo to Tallinn, in Estonia, and then go through Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany and Holland before arriving back in England next month.
Gert wants to raise both money and awareness for the charity, which has supported him since he discovered eight years ago, when he weighed nearly 25 stone, he had Type 2 Diabetes.
Last year, be spent time in hospital after developing heart complications linked to his condition, when his blood glucose levels were found to be high.
He said: “I discovered I had it when I had eye trouble. I went to hospital, they did 20 blood tests and one of them was for sugar and they said you’re diabetic.
“I lost 6.5 stone in weight – I was quite a big chap. I now have two sandwiches a day and a bit of warm food – there’s hardly any snacking.
“I thought 1 would do something for Diabetes UK because they’re helpful. You can get them on the phone and they’re there all the time with advice.
“I want people to understand Type. 2 diabetes can be managed and you can live a full and active life, but it is also a serious condition which in many cases can be prevented.”
Sponsor Gert at www.justgiving.com/sugarrun2014