“I have a very special memory from the Devon Coast 2 Coast cycling challenge in 2018,” says 59-year-old Moji.

“It was early one morning on Dartmoor. The rolling hills were covered in mist, which slowly lifted to reveal the spectacular view. It was magical.”

There are a lot of memories to choose from for this action woman, who has now taken part in an impressive 13 YMCA East Surrey challenge events, dating back to 2013.

“My first challenge was the Sportive cycling event which I heard about through Redhill Cycling Club and I knew other people who were taking part.”

“After that, I continued to sign up for YMCA’s cycling and walking events because of the amazing organisation, support, guidance, training and advice that is provided. Every challenge is a motivational experience.”

“In 2014, I took on the North Downs Trek with my daughter Holly who was 20. The weather threw everything it had at us – wind, sun and hail! – but we laughed every step of the way.”

Moji says that her toughest moment came towards the end of the 187-mile Ride the Dragon challenge in 2017.

“After a gruelling off-road slog through some breath-taking Welsh scenery, we began to climb Mount Snowdon. My heart said I could do it, but my head said ‘No, you can’t!’ I didn’t reach the summit on my bike in the end, but I made sure that a part of it came with me and took my front wheel right to the top!”

Moji raised an inspiring £1,250 from the Devon Coast 2 Coast in 2018 and was one of the top fundraisers for YMCA East Surrey in 2019. As a secondary school science teacher, she feels a close affinity with the youth work which is funded by money raised from the Challenge programme.

Our Challenge team have responded to the COVID-19 crisis by launching a series of virtual events and a coronavirus appeal which to date have raised £62,093. 2020 has, however, been a tough year for fundraising.

“I get tearful when I think of the Challenge events that have had to be cancelled in 2020,” says Moji. “I worry how YMCA East Surrey is going to do all the good things they need to do with less funds available at this time when people need even more help.”

She’s keen to encourage others to sign up for future events and says that the mental and physical challenges have helped her to build an inner strength that she can draw upon in difficult times.

“I’d say definitely do it! The YMCA events have changed my life. They’ve taught me to face problems with an open mind, to push myself to do more, to see the good in others, be myself, and to smile and be happy – even when it’s raining!”

Check out YMCA’s Challenge Events!