North East Connected

Cyclist to go the extra mile across Europe in aid of North charities

Jenni Whittaker 1A junior doctor from Ovingham, Northumberland, is about to embark on the biggest challenge she’s ever faced to raise funds for two North charities.

Next month, 26-year-old Jenni Whittaker will be gearing up for an epic charity bike ride that will see her pedalling across 12 countries to raise money for the North of England Children’s Cancer Research Fund (NECCR) and the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS).

Jenni’s journey will begin as she cycles from her home in Northumberland to North Shields, where she’ll hop on the ferry to Amsterdam and cross through the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Andorra, Spain and Portugal. The whole 2,500 mile trip will take her four weeks to complete, before she jets back to the UK for her best friend’s wedding.

Jenni said: “Working in paediatrics at Newcastle’s RVI and the Great North Children’s Hospital in the children’s cancer unit, I’ve seen first-hand the way in which the NECCR is helping children and their families. It made perfect sense to have them as one of my chosen charities, alongside the GNAAS – another charity very close to my heart.”

Jenni is no stranger to the saddle. She says got into cycling five years ago when her parents took up the sport. She has also taken part in several triathlons over the years, inspired by her mum, Caroline, who competes in competitions all over the world.

She said: “I love to set myself a challenge. This European cycle is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’ve never managed to get the idea off the ground before as I couldn’t find anyone who would be willing to do it with me. But this year I was determined to make it happen one way or another.”

“Finding the time to fit in my training has been tough. Cycling to and from work is sometimes all I get. I know I’m fit enough to go the distance, so spending time on the bike is the most important thing. Tired muscles are easier to deal with than saddle sore and an aching back from being hunched over the handlebars if you’re not used to it! I’ll also be doing some smaller trips between now and July, including a two-day-ride from Berwick to the Lake District to test my kit.”

Jenni will be tackling the challenge alongside friend Craig Thompson from Prudhoe, who she met at a local Triathlon club.

Not content with just one challenge on the horizon, Jenni is already looking ahead to the next.

She said: “I am a keen cyclist and swimmer, but less of a keen runner. I took part in the NECCR Children’s Cancer Run this year and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve signed up to do the Great North Run for the third time later this year for the charity.”

Cancer survivor and Chairman of the NECCR, Chris Peacock, said: “We’re delighted that Jenni has chosen to support the NECCR with her amazing challenge. The overwhelming support we receive from cyclists, fun-runners, volunteers, and families all helps to raise vital funds for research into children’s cancer, so we can finally beat the disease once and for all. Best of luck Jenni and Craig – we’ll be following your adventures and hope you have an incredible trip!”

Two years ago, Jenni cycled 1500 miles from Land’s End to John O’ Groats and back to Newcastle to raise money for Great North Children’s Hospital charity.

She said: “I raised over £2000 on that trip. I’d love to beat that figure this time around!”

To sponsor Jenni, visit and to keep up her adventures via Twitter, follow @NewcastletoFaro

To organise a fundraising event for the NECCR, find out more about the charity or get involved can contact fundraiser Janet Price at or 07808 349 570.

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