A SOLICITOR from Barnoldswick has returned from a mammoth charity cycle trip to India that raised more than £1,500.

Sara Jane Chorkley, 47 spent two weeks on her bike following staff of the health charity LEPRA, who work to fight disease, poverty and prejudice in the subcontinent.

She was one of 12 cyclists from the UK who tackled the 500km route in the state of Madhya Pradesh, also known as the ‘Heart of India’.

Sara Jane, a graduate of the University of Central Lancashire, said: “I have cycled in Vietnam before and this was a great opportunity to get India under my belt.

“It was a real eye-opener sharing a room en route not only with my fellow cyclists, but also with a rat, two frogs and any number of geckos!”

Sara Jane accompanied a LEPRA health education van to project sites throughout the routes. In some villages, hundreds of people turned out to welcome the charity workers.

They also planted a custard apple tree in her honour high up on a hill in Madhya Pradesh.

Sara Jane said: “Meeting the people LEPRA is helping was very humbling, it was so hard to see people living in such poverty and hearing about the prejudice they face.

“It was a very emotionally tiring trip. We arrived during Diwali and it was a serious bombardment on your senses from start to finish. I loved it.”

LEPRA’s events coordinator Lizzie Dearling said: “In addition to the direct services we provide on the frontline, we focus on the people affected by some of the world’s oldest diseases associated with poverty.

“LEPRA treats, educates and gives a voice to these people and equips them with the skills they need to improve their lives. People like Sara Jane make this possible.”

Each year LEPRA reaches more than one million people with life-saving health information and improves the lives of a further 700,000 people affected by disease.