Man-drawn cart completes 300-mile challenge

An animal lover has pulled a cart for 300 miles in aid of of working horses, mules and donkeys around the world.

John Yates has raised almost £1,700 for charity Brooke though his gruelling trek, which began in Chester on 28 September.

He took in Shrewsbury, Worcester, Gloucester, Cirencester, Swindon and Salisbury en route to his home town Plaistow in the South Downs one month later.

The 50kg cart, which John designed himself, doubled as a mini camper van in which he slept each night.

He said particularly wet and windy weather during October made the challenge even harder than anticipated.

“Having completed similar endurance challenges in the past, I was prepared for the physical demands. However, the rain made things really difficult. Getting into a wet bed in the evening was pretty horrible,” John said.

Despite the hardships, he was buoyed on his trek by members of the public, many of whom stopped to talk about Brooke’s work, some even buying him breakfast.

“I knew that people would be generous but I didn’t expect to meet so many people who wanted to discuss animal welfare in general,” he said.

“I’m generally quite an introverted person and could probably live quite happily on an island on my own but it was amazing to meet so many people, and having the opportunity to talk about subjects I’m passionate about was so rewarding. It made the cold nights and damp days worth it.”

John stopped in Salisbury, the birthplace of Brooke founder Dorothy Brooke, on 25 October where he met the charity’s CEO Peta Imgram for a day of walking and discussion.

John said his mission was not just about raising money but more importantly raising awareness of the conditions some working animals endure.

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“People were shocked to hear that there are 100 million working horses, donkeys and mules around the world,” he added.

John, who is no stranger to charity fundraisers, having raised money for causes including a 900-mile bike ride for the Staffy Club last year, is now looking ahead to his next fundraising expedition.

“I’m going to redesign the cart for next year. Having spent three weeks sleeping in it, I’ve got a few ideas on how to improve it,” he said.

“Next year, I want to have a broader focus on rescue animals and highlight several smaller charities and the amazing people who volunteer their time.”

Donations are still being accepted for John’s challenge.

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