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Vets tour Arctic Circle on motorbikes to raise £80,000 for charity

A team of vets on motorbikes travelled 4,300 miles around the Arctic Circle in June for charity.

The trip is the eighth for the ‘Vets with Horsepower’ group founded in 2010 by Professor Derek Knottenbelt, who set-up Equine Medical Solutions and consults at Glasgow University.

Six vets set off on 15 June for the ferry on their motorbikes for the 17-day trip across Scandinavia.

On the team were: Jessica Kidd, a freelance surgeon; Caroline Hahn, an equine neurologist at the University of Edinburgh; Sanne Wilmink who works at Garston vets in Frome; Dr Deon van Tonder, a South African-based vet; and Dietrich von Schwieinitz, an equine acupuncturist based in Guildford.

The other vet due to take part was John Burford, a surgeon and lecturer at the University of Nottingham.

Unable to get the Friday off work, he was meant to join the team in Lubeck in Germany on the Saturday night. But on the way to the ferry he was paying for some petrol when someone broke into his top box and stole his passport.

A new one did arrive two weeks later enabling Burford to join the team in Hamburg for the final leg of the journey home.

This meant he missed the Scandavian loop of the trip, which started in Denmark, went up through Sweden, over the Arctic Circle where the team saw the midnight sun on the longest day of the year, and back down through Norway.

They then came home via Denmark, Holland and Germany, arriving back in the UK on 1 July.

“Our bottoms all hurt for the first half of the journey, but they went numb after a while,” said Ms Wilmink.

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Along the way the team each gave separate talks at each of the five stops. A total of 25 subjects were covered ranging from neurology to surgery.

The team stayed with local vets en route or in a hotels, where they share rooms to keep costs down.

A total of £80,000 was raised for the three nominated charities. They are:

  • Saving the Survivors, which helps rhinos and other African animals suffering from poaching attacks;
  • The Smile Train, which helps children with cleft paletes in poor countries
  • The Dakar Vet’s School. The school trains vets for the surrounding nine African counties and the money from the ride will provide essential equine teaching materials and equipment.

This year 50% of the funds raised came from the Scandavian vets, the remainder from vets in the UK and European veterinary companies.

“We’d like to thank everyone who’s supported us. The equine community all comes together to make this happen,” said Ms Wilmink.

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