Five friends learned a lot about Communist Cuba as they cycled 360 km across the island to raise money for a cancer charity.
Michelle Mellor, managing director of the recruitment company Cummins Mellor, tackled the challenge with Jacky Godfrey, from Mitton, Andrea Pinder and Philippa McDowell, both from Fence, and Christine Humberstone, from Higham.
Together they raised a massive £12,300 for Rosemere Cancer Foundation.
During their six-day ride, they visited the Che Guevara mausoleum and the Bay of Pigs, where there is a museum dedicated to the CIA’s failed invasion attempt to topple Fidel Castro’s revolutionary government in 1962.
They cycled over mountains, through sugar cane fields, plantations and along the coast, and mingled with the friendly locals.
They found that although Cuba is poor by Western standards, the socialist government provides every citizen with enough food to survive on, subsidised basic living expenses, free health care and free education.
“I now know that the greatest gift you can give when visiting is respect and friendship, and that is what ‘real’ Cubans are interested in,” said Michelle, who lives at Pleasington.
Before the group left for Cuba, they held a Cuban-themed fundraising ball at Gibbon Bridge in Chipping, with a Cuban themed band playing into the early hours and plenty of Cuban cocktails to help raise funds. More than 100 guests attended to show their support.
Michelle added: “We were absolutely thrilled with our efforts. We had fun, got fit cycling and have wonderful memories of an amazing country.
“It was such a worthwhile challenge and we are so pleased Rosemere will benefit for the great work they do.”
Dan Hill, area fundraising coordinator for Rosemere, said: “What an amazing total the ladies raised between them.
“It is truly staggering and a testament to all the hard work and effort they put in as a team and Rosemere are delighted with their efforts and the continuous support they give us.”