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Former King's student takes on the ultimate motorbike challenge from the Strand to Sierra Leone

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Left to right: General Richard Nugee CVO CBE, Kenn Bannister, Shelley Parry

A former King’s College London student (MA Defence Studies, 2010) and army officer is taking on the ultimate motorbike challenge and riding more than 7000 km from the University’s Strand campus, to Freetown, Sierra Leone.

The trip is designed to raise funds for the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership, a network of London based medics and health professionals, who have been working to rebuild Sierra Leone’s health system in the wake of the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

Lieutenant Colonel Kenn Bannister, originally from Australia, was inspired to take on the mammoth journey, which will begin morning of Friday 16 February, after hearing about the life-saving work the volunteers from King’s College London, Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts did.

Although the Ebola outbreak is officially over, the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership volunteers, who together with local health workers set up isolation facilities that managed more than over 40 per cent of Ebola cases in Freetown, and 14 per cent of all cases in the country, are still working in the West African country.

Speaking about the trip Kenn said: “The original idea to ride long-distance solo came from my love of the original Paris-Dakar Rally, it really caught my imagination. By adulthood, the thought of riding between Paris and Daker and crossing the Sahara became a strong desire.

“I approached King’s College London with the offer of extending my original journey by 1,000 miles from Dakar to Freetown and changing my focus from Paris-Dakar to a fundraising expedition for the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership.”

Kenn is fully prepared for the challenges of the trip and will draw on his experience of working in hostile environments to help him complete his mission.

With a network of contacts from his military and university days, including General Richard Nugee CVO CBE, the Patron of the charity ride, Kenn has the support system in place along the route to help him achieve both his motor biking dream and his £50,000 fundraising target.

The funds raised from the trip will pay for five specialists to be sent from the UK to work with partners, including the main tertiary hospital, in Freetown.

Kenn’s bike will be fitted with GPS vehicle trackers to provide real-time feedback on his position, and video of the journey will be uploaded to the expedition’s social media feeds. 

You can follow Kenn on Twitter ‪@KCLtoKSLP and Facebook @kslpfundraisingexpedition and donate online at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/KSLPFundraisingExpedition.

Photos supplied by Ivan Seifert and Kenn Bannister.