Hannah draws on Olympic spirit for special triathlon

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A TEENAGER from St Bede’s School is drawing on the Olympic spirit to raise cash for poverty-stricken children in Uganda.

Hannah Message, 17, was born prematurely, leaving her moderately disabled. But she’s not letting such difficulties stand in her way and is taking part in a specially-designed sponsored triathlon.

She’ll be cycling five miles, running one mile and swimming 500 metres, with all the proceeds going to the Quicken Trust, the Hailsham-based charity working in the village of Kabubbu.

Hannah, a sixth-form student at St Bede’s in Upper Dicker, is travelling to Uganda as part of a team of volunteer workers in October.

The Quicken Trust asks all volunteers to do some fundraising before they go as well as paying for the trip. Raising money through a sponsored triathlon was Hannah’s dad’s idea.

“He is really sporty so I wasn’t surprised that he suggested it,” she said. “It’s tough but I thought I’ll give it a go.

“I wanted to raise about £600. Now I am on target to reach more than £1,000 which is just great.”

The Quicken Trust has been working in Kabubbu for 12 years, helping to transform the lives of a village devastated by poverty, malaria and AIDS.

Over that period, it has built a medical centre and two schools, helping hundreds of children get an education. Ongoing projects include foster care, adult literacy and vocational training for young people.

Quicken Trust’s director of development, Geraldine Booker, is impressed by Hannah’s effort.

“Just thinking about her dedication, courage and commitment, leaves me exhausted,” said Geraldine.

“On the eve of the Paralympics, Hannah has been an inspiration to others in preparing for her triathlon. Many young people in Uganda with similar physical challenges have to also overcome the prejudices just to acquire an education. Children in Kabubbu will be amazed to hear her story.”

Hannah will be working with schoolchildren in Kabubbu and is relishing the opportunity.

Hannah’s Mum, Jenny, is also going. She will be working with some of the elderly in the village.

But there is an added attraction to the visit in October. Hannah became close friends with a student from the village, Winnie, who studied at St Bede’s on a scholarship between 2008 and 2011. Winnie is now back in Uganda, training to be a nurse. She doesn’t know about Hannah’s trip.

Hannah said, “It will be great to see her again. She will be so surprised.”