On your bike as pupils and friends rally to support Cure INAD charity

Ben Manuja raised more than £2,000 for Cure INAD by cycling through Africa.

By John Baron

A charity set up by Bramley parents has been boosted by two big fund-raising events involving cycling.

Cure INAD was set up by Bramley mum Christine Hampshire and dad Steve Lightfoot to raise funds and awareness for Infantile Neuro Axonal Dystrophy (INAD), a rare neurological condition their daughter, Zoe, has had since she was a toddler.

Now a family friend has raised £2,100 for the cause after cycling 9,000 miles by himself through Africa, and pupils at Valley View Primary School in Rodley have also raised £642 through a sponsored ‘wheels’ event.

Ben Manuja set off with his bike and tent last year, to try and cycle from Tangier in Morocco, down the west coast of Africa and all the way to Cape Town. Ben, who lived in Bramley until moving to the Isle of Man, completed the feat after 231 days, through 14 countries and cycling for 15,400km.

He said he’d completed the ride to support the family and added: “I knew this could be difficult with Covid, visas and some political instability, but I made it through the Sahara, then into Senegal, Guinea, Cote D’Ivoire and onto Ghana. 

“Unfortunately at Ghana I finally got stuck due to visa issues, so I had to fly from Ghana to Rwanda, and then continued the trip through Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia.

“All the money raised will be used to help fund research to find a cure for this rare genetic condition, where affected children have a life expectancy of five to ten years. Thank you to all the fantastic people I met travelling through Africa and also to all the amazing people who have so kindly donated, I’m not sure I could have made it without all the support.”

Miss Hamshere, of Moorland View, said: “It’s fantastic. He’s known Zoe since she was a baby and he wanted to do something to help. He’s a family friend and I’m so grateful for his efforts.”

Pupils in the nursery at Valley View Primary School in Rodley held a sponsored wheels at school event, where they rode bikes and scooters in laps around the school yard to raise £642.90.

Zoe’s brother, Alex, goes to the school. The charity’s ambassador – actress Millie Tate, from TV soap Emmerdale – was there to lend her support. 

Christine added: “The school has been brilliant in supporting us. A huge thank you to them for raising awareness of INAD, for all the organising and fundraising. The children in the nursery class are superstars, and so are all their families for helping them to fundraise and participate.”

Zoe Lightfoot was two years old when she was diagnosed with infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy (INAD) – a rare degenerative disease which causes loss of sight, physical movement and cognitive skills. Spotting that there was no UK-based charity where families could receive support, parents Christine Hamshere and Steven Lightfoot of Bramley decided to launch their own in 2021. 

The charity celebrated its first anniversary on November 29 having raised enough money to give its first grant to University College London (UCL) and Great Ormond Street Hospital to fund its INAD research. Zoe is now seven years old.

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