24 September 2020
Hertfordshire dad arrives in Lebanon as he nears the end of epic bike ride
Eddie el Lamaa, whose parents are from Lebanon, has raised over £50k for the British Red Cross Beirut appeal (now closed).
A 38-year-old businessman from Hertfordshire - who didn’t even own a bicycle two months ago - is due to arrive in Beirut this afternoon (Thurs 24 Sept). Eddie el Lamaa, has ridden through nine countries en route to the Lebanese capital.
Eddie, whose parents are originally from Lebanon, undertook this incredible journey to raise money for the British Red Cross’ Beirut Emergency Appeal (now closed), gaining widespread media attention across Europe along the way.
The “novice cyclist” has been on the road for 40 days and has so far raised over £50k, which will be passed to the Lebanese Red Cross to support the relief effort following the massive explosion in Beirut on 4 August.
The father of three was moved to help after seeing the enormous devastation in a city he knows well. He says:
“I’ve spent holidays in Lebanon most years since I was a teenager and have lots of relatives there. Watching the explosion had a huge impact on me and the entire Lebanese community around the world. We really felt it in our hearts and could only imagine what our friends, family and the people of Beirut are going through.
“I’ve always felt that ‘where much is given, much is expected’ and I’ve been so fortunate and blessed in my own life that I just want to give back wherever I can. If I believe in something and can visualise it happening, then I just get on with it!”
Eddie’s journey has seen him cycle from London through France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey, before taking a ferry across to the Lebanese port of Tripoli. When he reaches Beirut he will have covered 2,650 miles.
As news of Eddie’s journey spread, local people, press and media crews turned out to wish him well. At every stage, he says, the support has been “spectacular.”
The journey hasn’t always been easy, but Eddie’s family, including his wife Chloe, brother Mike and cousin Mario, have been there with ongoing support and he’s kept his followers updated with daily videos of his progress on Instagram.
Eddie says his lack of special training hasn’t caused too many problems, although his legs are hurting; “I set off just a few days after having the idea and am so grateful to my amazing friends and family who have helped me organise everything. The day before I left my Dad said he was coming in the support vehicle to cheer me on!”
Apart from focusing his mind on the physical challenge of each day, Mr Lamaa says he’s looking forward to reaching Beirut and meeting some of the Lebanese Red Cross volunteers.
“The Lebanese people have a special place in their hearts for the Red Cross,” he says, “as so many young Lebanese people volunteer for the organisation. It is respected by the different communities right across the country. I’d never heard of anyone cycling to Lebanon and I thought it would be a great way to raise a significant amount of money to support the Lebanese Red Cross’ work at this terrible time.”
In the weeks since the explosion, the Lebanese Red Cross has been supporting people with food, clean water, temporary shelter, medical and blood transfusion services and psychosocial support. They have been making visits to every home in the blast area, to ask people what they need, to assess the damage to their homes and plan for recovery. Some are living without toilets, electricity or running water. The charity’s focus now is on helping people rebuild.
Red Cross fundraiser, Leanne Sinclair said:
“We’re all cheering Eddie on and have such respect for him and all the amazing fundraisers around the country who are taking on a whole host of challenges to raise money for the Red Cross.”
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