Shifting sand pays off as nine-day desert trek ends

A dancer diagnosed with a dangerous heart condition has trekked across the Sahara.

Joanne Urch, from Chelston, said she is still nursing her blisters after the nine-day trek to raise more than £4,000 for Cardiac Risk in the Young.

Joanne was diagnosed more than a year ago with Long QT Syndrome during a holiday in the United States.

And her young son Tyler also suffers from the condition which can cause sudden death in fit and healthy young people.

After her trek Joanne said: "The trek was absolute hell for me, everything I don't like.

"I am definitely a comfort girlie. But I know that the money raised really will save lives and that makes every step and blister upon blister worth it.

"I met the most amazing people out there. I was told that you make special friendship bonds when you are all thrown into that kind of environment together and it is so true."

Joanne said that when she and her fellow trekkers climbed the tallest sand dune in the Sahara, they had to get up at 4am in the pitch black with only head torches to see.

She said: "Sand walking is so hard, but the views when we sat on the top and watched the sunrise made it all worthwhile.

"It was quite a moving moment for me, as I had not spoken or had any contact with Ty for days at this point.

"The silence and beauty as the sun cast its shadows over the never-ending waves of dunes really hit home as to why I was there and how much hard work it had all taken, not just from me but all my loved ones.

"I had a few tears thinking of home. Ty and all the people depending on the charity CRY. It was a very proud moment for me."

Joanne described endless heat, dust, flies and aching feet.

And her team encountered two sandstorms.

She said: "My eyes, ears and mouth were full of sand – that was really horrible, but we trudged on and on.

"I think I will be finding sand in places still by Christmas."

Joanne said that she cried when she crossed the finishing line.

"I guess it was pride, exhaustion and relief, but what a great moment."

To support Joanne visit