On 24 August, planning enforcement officer Mark Turner will join ten motorcyclists to ride across Europe to Chernobyl. Each rider has pledged to raise £1,000 for UK charity Chernobyl Children's Project.
The organisation helps children in Belarus, many of whom are still suffering from the after-effects of the nuclear disaster in 1986. The trip covers some 5,600km, will take 15 days and entails travelling through the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine and Belarus.
The nuclear accident at Chernobyl ranks as one of humanity's greatest ecological disasters. Many people suffered and died as a result of the explosion and subsequent radiation. Children born in Belarus after the incident are still suffering from terrible birth defects and ill-health.
In summer, when dust causes the radiation levels to rise, it is vital to evacuate children from their contaminated homeland for a few weeks of fresh air and clean food. This can boost their immune systems for at least two years, helping them to resist or recover from serious illness. It also significantly reduces the amount of radioactive caesium that can build up in a child's body.
Each summer, the Chernobyl Children's Project (UK) brings around 400 children to Britain for a recuperative holiday. It also organises holidays in clean parts of Belarus for children whose disabilities make it difficult for them to travel. Many of the children who are brought to the UK are in remission from leukaemia or other cancers.
Turner's background in environmental management has played a major role in his involvement in BikeAid. While tragedies such as the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina are fresh in our minds, the Chernobyl disaster seems to have been relegated to the pages of history.
"This is my chance to raise funds for a charity that is doing some amazing work," he comments. "I will get to see first hand some of the damage that results when things are not properly planned."
BikeAid participants will cover their own costs and 100 per cent of monies raised go to the charity. "Please visit my website and donate as much as you can. Tell friends and colleagues," he urges. It is important that Chernobyl is not forgotten.
Louise Compagnone is communications officer at the RTPI. To sponsor Mark, please visit www.justgiving.com/mark-turner