To Timbuktu... by quad bike

PUBLISHED: 15:08 14 April 2010 | UPDATED: 11:38 23 August 2010

TWO women are set to quad-bike to Timbuktu – through some of Africa s most hazardous terrain – to raise money for cancer charities.

TWO women are set to quad-bike to Timbuktu - through some of Africa's most hazardous terrain - to raise money for cancer charities.

Katrina Smith, 42, who has homes in New Ash Green and in Alhaurin El Grande, Spain, will undertake the gruelling 2,500-mile trip with her friend, Margo Dalby, on October 9.

Mrs Smith decided on the daring adventure after losing her beloved grandmother, Lillian Skinner, formerly of St Mary Cray, to cancer 18 months ago.

Funds raised will go to Harris HospisCare and Macmillan Cancer Support, which cared for Mrs Skinner and supported her family after her death.

The mother-of-three formed the two2timbuktu charity after 51-year-old Mrs Dalby, who also lives in Alhaurin El Grande and lost her mother to cancer, agreed to join her on the trip.

Starting in the southern Spanish town, the route will take in Morocco, the Sahara, Senegal, Gambia and finally Mali.

Mrs Smith said: "It is going to be quite extreme, what with the heat and possible dangers like landmines and kidnappers.

"I was very close to my grandmother. She was like a mother to me, so it was awful when she died. And the only good thing I can remember from that whole horrible time was that both Harris HospisCare and Macmillan Cancer Support were absolutely amazing.

"They were so caring. Even after she died, they still called my grandfather to make sure he was okay and even sent Christmas cards. When I realised they are volunteers I wanted to raise as much money to try and help them do their work."

Actress Natalie Robb, who has starred in Taggart, Doctors and The Bill, has volunteered to be their mentor and will lend her weight to publicising the trip and supporting them financially.

Mrs Smith said: "It is absolutely brilliant that Natalie has decided to support us with this.

"She is 100 per cent behind us and wants to do whatever she can to help, which is just wonderful."

The pair will be visiting schools and orphanages on the journey and have appealed for stationery and other donations as well as financial help.

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