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To Germany and back for Sarah

When fixtures were cancelled due to coronavirus, a south coast roller derby team turned their disappointment into a fundraising opportunity instead.

At the start of 2020, the Portsmouth Roller Wenches were looking forward to celebrating their tenth anniversary and travelling to Germany for a match against the Munich Rolling Rebels. But when the world imploded due to the pandemic, lockdown meant training sessions – and spending time together – was no longer allowed.

Determined to stay positive, the girls decided to take on a ‘virtual’ fundraising challenge instead, collectively travelling the equivalent distance (1,127 km) from Portsmouth to Munich in the month leading up to their anniversary.

The rules were simple – to cover the km individually in any way they could, including skating, running, walking, rowing and cycling. Within ten days the distance had been met and determined to (literally) go the extra mile, the girls continued their virtual travels.

The skaters covered the equivalent distance to Amsterdam, where they played in 2015, and then completed a ‘virtual tour’ of the UK, logging distances between the locations of other teams who shared the same anniversary.

Over £1400 was raised by covering a total of 3207km, and the money was split between the PHA UK, Southsea Skate Park and PAPYRUS (Prevention of Young Suicide).

Team member Katie Beerling (known as ‘Buns of Anarchy’), lost her sister Sarah Cains to PH in January 2019.

She said: “Sarah was diagnosed in 2005 and was able to have many more years of enjoying her life with her family thanks to her treatment.

PHA UK support and advances in medication meant that she was able to do more and enjoy the time she had, including seeing her son grow up.

It was hard for me knowing that I could skate and be active, but that Sarah couldn’t. She did enjoy coming to our bouts and hearing about games though. And she adapted to what she could do rather than think too often about what she couldn’t.

This fundraiser was a great event, bringing us together as a team (even when we had to be apart) and achieving a common goal and motivation for exercise.

The Wenches took a hard situation and turned it into a positive outcome, very much like Sarah did.”

Katie (right) with her sister Sarah