Dentist Neil Harris, from Oxford House Dental Practice in Milton Keynes, is facing the challenge of a lifetime by ‘Snowboarding Down Everest’. Well OK not the real mountain, but the equivalent height at the SNO!zone at Xscape Milton Keynes, IN SCRUBS!!!
On the 22nd August he will start the first of his 295 runs that will make up the 8850m height of Everest in order to raise money and awareness for two charities that he is closely linked with.
The international charity Mercy Ships www.mercyships.org.uk provides much needed medical aid to countries in Africa, such as Liberia and Sierra Leone, two of the poorest countries in the world. Oral health charity Dentaid www.dentaid.org refurbishes donated UK dental equipment to provide dental surgeries to needy communities worldwide.
Speaking about his charity challenge, Neil said: “I thought about a sponsored swim – been there, a sponsored walk – done that, snowboard down Everest – now that would make a great T-Shirt!
“I have had the privilege of serving with Mercy Ships as a dentist for a couple of weeks each year for the last five years and it is an amazing charity. As it says on their logo, they bring ‘Hope and Healing’ to the poor and they don’t come much poorer than some of the countries I have been out to with Mercy Ships.
“One of the most amazing things is that all the crew on the ship are volunteers; in fact they even have to raise their own money for crew fees and travel. So you can imagine how much of the money donated to this charity goes directly to the work. I could bombard you with facts and figures about what they achieve, but just seeing the smile on a mother’s face, when her baby has had a life changing cleft lip repaired by the surgeons in one of the operating theatres on the ship, says it all. So I am looking forward to going back out to Liberia in October to help again in the dental clinic the ship has set up for the local population. Did I mention there are only 3 licensed dentists in Liberia – for a population of over 3 million?!”
“I’ve also had links with Dentaid for a number of years, ranging from donating equipment from our practice to be refurbished for needy projects, to taking part in fundraising events. In fact Oxford House Dental Practice has won a number of prizes in their ‘Dress Up 4 Dentaid Day. Fundraising events like these enable Dentaid to carry out their vital work improving the world’s oral health. As well as supplying equipment and instruments Dentaid also train indigenous workers so communities are benefited by their work long term. Dentaid also educate local people about the importance of good oral health and are involved in schools programmes in Uganda and Cameroon where children are educated, screened and treated if necessary.
“In my time I have treated patients dressed as Superman and Scooby Doo! It’s great to think that some of the equipment I use out in Liberia is only there as a result of the work of Dentaid back in this country.
Speaking about what he hopes to achieve by ‘Snowboarding Down Everest’, Neil continued: “I have three hopes for this challenge. First, that people will become more aware and interested in Mercy Ships and Dentaid. Secondly, to raise as much money for them as I can. And thirdly, not to break anything!”
In addition to his dental work, Neil is also a part-time snowboard instructor at SNO!zone where he has been training for the event.
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