’Granddad’s Army’ takes to the road to raise funds

The City of Cape Town’s fire and rescue services spokesman, Jermaine Carelse, from Sir Lowry’s Pass Village will be riding his bike from East London to Cape Town in March.

Two firefighters based at Goodwood Fire Department will embark on a gruelling 1 600km cycle from East London to Cape Town in March – all in the name of charity.

The City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson, Jermaine Carelse, from Sir Lowry’s Pass Village and his colleague Dino Levendall, from Bothasig, who is a staff duty officer, will be joining a group of 36 cyclists who call themselves “Granddad’s Army”, to help raise R400 000 for Eyabantwana – For the Children Trust.

Eyabantwana is an East London non-profit organisation which raises funds to buy life-saving medical equipment for the paediatric surgical theatre at the Frere Hospital in the Eastern Cape.

The NPO’s spokesperson, Trystan Viane, said the first charity ride took place in 2015 when the founder of Eyabantwana Dr Colin Lazarus and six friends decided to ride to Cape Town from East London, to raise funds for the trust, and in memory of their friend Rob Burton who was killed by a truck while cycling.

“Raising awareness for cyclists on the road and for the children’s charity was the aim,” she said.

The ride will start on Sunday March 6, for four days, until Wednesday, March 9, stopping at various locations to sleep and have meals.

Mr Levendall, who had been a participant in the charity ride since 2017, said he trains every day, waking up just before 4am, and that he and Mr Carelse sometimes cycle from Bothasig to Chapman’s Peak on a Saturday.

He said every charity ride comes with different challenges but hearing that children are being cared for at the hospital is what keeps him motivated.

He recalls incidents of the past charity rides, where cyclists would end up injured and causing delays in the race but said riding for charity is his way of giving back.

“The Eyabantwana Trust keeps us updated about their many success stories and their contribution to make children healthy again. It is a good feeling knowing that I have contributed too,” he said.

Mr Levendall said the charity ride is safe and fun. He said there are two support vehicles travelling with them along the journey, who make sure they have enough water and supplies to make the journey a pleasant one.

This will be Mr Carelse’s second charity ride for the Eyabantwana Trust. While he says he is fit enough to ride, he himself had been faced with challenges at last year’s ride.

He said it was a cold and wet day when cycling in East London and he was nearly hit by trucks he passed.

But he is still motivated to “join in on the fun,” this year, he said.

“The camaraderie was the best part of taking on this challenge. There were people from all walks of life and we had a good time and made good friends there,” he said.

Head paediatric surgeon, Dr Milind Chitnis, told Tabletalk, Eyabantwana – For the Children Trust assists them with infrastructure upgrades, purchasing of essential equipment and education and training of doctors and nurses.

He said the non-profit sponsors paediatric surgeons, trainees and nurses to visit specialised hospitals like Red Cross Children’s Memorial Hospital and to attend national conferences.

If you would like to join in on next year’s charity ride, email Trystan Viane at admin@eyabantwana.co.za

Dino Levendall from Bothasig, who is a staff duty officer at Goodwood Fire Department, will be doing the charity ride for the fifth time.