FUNDRAISERS are limbering up for a gruelling trek across the Sahara to raise cash for Havens Hospices.

The group is being helped by Simply Stride, a company offering training for people embarking on tough challenges including a trek across the Sahara, the Grand Union Challenge and Thames Path Challenge.

The sessions give training techniques and advice to people taking part to help build fitness, preparing fundraisers to put their best foot forward in a range of challenging treks.

Janet Evenden, 47, from Billericay, has worked as an assistant manager at Havens Hospices’ charity shop in Hadleigh for the last two years.

She has been attending the free Simply Stride sessions to prepare for her week long desert trek in the Sahara, with her sister, Debbie Whitehead, in October.

Janet has a special reason for her fundraising, as her daughter, Elena, was cared for by the charity’s children’s hospice, Little Havens, throughout her life.

In 2002, Janet gave birth to Elena, who was diagnosed with a degenerative condition called GM1 Gangliosidosis Type 2 when she was 18 months old.

She was told that because of her illness, Elena wouldn’t reach adulthood. The family was referred to Little Havens for respite care in 2003.

Janet said; “The support we received from Little Havens was wonderful, I don’t know how to put into words how amazing it was. The care given to Elena was so specialist that if anything were to happen, I felt safe.

“At Little Havens we could feel normal too because all the families there were going through similar journeys. It allowed me to just be mum again.”

Elena died at Little Havens on April 5, 2008, aged six.

Janet added: “Little Havens gave us the time to create special memories together with Elena and for that I’ll always be grateful.

“My family think I’m crazy trekking the Sahara, but I’m really excited.

“I’ve been really busy fundraising and I’m hoping to raise £1,800.

“It’s been really beneficial to get some advice from Simply Stride for trekking technique and general wear and tear. I’m doing it for Elena, so it’s going to be really special for me and it’ll be her that keeps me going.”

Details of Havens Hospices UK summer challenges can be found at www.havens For details, call Events Fundraiser Emma Hamilton on 01702 220308, or e-mail eha