Darren Leader has challenged himself to walk the 220 miles of the River Severn in eight days to raise funds for the University of Gloucestershire’s award-winning Sport Malawi project.

The former student and current Admissions Officer for PGCE at the University of Gloucestershire will hike 27.5 miles a day, carrying his own water, food, and tent, in a bid to raise money for the project, which uses sport to reach and educate people on issues of gender equality, poverty and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The route follows the River Severn from its source at Plynlimon, Wales to the mouth of the Severn at Bristol, England. He will start his trek on 9 July and aims to finish on the 17 July; Darren, who lives in Little Witcombe, will be travelling through Gloucester on July 13.

The innovative Sport Malawi project recently secured gold at the prestigious 2012 games-inspired Podium Awards, for the British Council Award for Innovative International Collaboration, from the Further and Higher Education Unit for the 2012 Games.

In July, a team of staff and students will set-off on the annual four-week expedition to deliver multi-sports workshops and coaching sessions to more than 500 people via the education of local organisations, teachers and church leaders.

Helen Pearson, Director of Development & Alumni Relations at the University of Gloucestershire, said: “We are delighted that Darren has chosen to use this opportunity to raise funds for the University’s Sport Malawi initiative. The project is funded entirely from voluntary donations and is especially poignant during this Olympic year.”

Darren added: “This will be a challenge that’s as much mental as physical, I will be fortunate enough to have people joining me at different stages along the way which should keep up the morale.”

Building on the opportunities presented through the Sport Malawi initiative, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Malawi National Olympic Committee was signed, to create a Gloucestershire Consortium with Gloucester City Council, Cheltenham Borough Council, Sandford Parks Lido, and Aspire Sports & Cultural Trust and the University of Gloucestershire that will provide facilities for the Malawi Olympic team during their preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Cheltenham Borough Council will be offering the team access to facilities such as [email protected], Sandford Park Lido and the Prince of Wales athletics stadium. In addition, the Aspire Trust will provide access to tennis facilities at Plock Court and GL1.
You can follow Darren’s route here on the just giving website, or if you feel the pace might be too fast you can sponsor him at http://www.justgiving.com/Darren-Leader

Malawi 2012 is supported by Aspire Sports & Cultural Trust, Kingfisher Church, Baxter Storey and the University of Gloucestershire Faculty of Applied Sciences.

Sport Malawi and Malawi 2012

• Established in 2008, Sport Malawi expeditions have been running for four years and have grown year upon year.
• To date 31 volunteers from the University have worked on the project, with over 1000 Malawi participants trained through the workshops.
• The London 2012 Olympic Games take place from July 27 to August 12. The Paralympic Games run from August 29 to September 9. For more information, please visit http://www.london2012.com/

Source: University of Gloucestershire