Nine-year-old is set to take on Sahara with help from Leamington opticians

A youngster is gearing up for a 100-kilometre trek across the Sahara Desert – enduring the searing heat of the day and the intense cold at night – to raise money for Guide Dogs.

Freddie Cannell, aged nine, will be joined by his parents Matt and Lynne and a group of other fundraisers.

Freddie said: “I’m really looking forward to the trek and we’re doing lots of training.

“I know it’s going to be really hot but I am ready for that. I’m hoping to raise as much money as I can because I think Guide Dogs is a really good cause.

“Guide Dogs help blind and partially sighted people and I love the thought that I can help a charity that changes people’s lives.”

His parents are volunteers for their fundraising branch, and they have previously all entered the Great North Run to raise money for Guide Dogs.

Mr Cannell said: “We also look after guide dogs, having already boarded nine dogs during their training at Leamington.”

He said Freddie wanted to get involved since Mr Cannell took part in a similar trek last year, helping a visually impaired person.

“We will be starting the trek in March next year, and will walk across the Sahara in four full days, and two half days.

“We will be led by a local guide, and all our equipment - tents, food, water, clothes - will be carried by our supporting camels.”

At night the trekkers will be sleeping in tents, when the temperature will drop below zero.

Daytime temperatures in the Sahara frequently reach highs of 36C (96.80F) in March.

Mrs Cannel said: “We are really proud of Freddie for wanting to get involved.”

The trek of just over 62 miles has been arranged with help from the Leamington branch of Optical Express in Bedford Street.

It included specialist clothing for the family, who live in Rugby, and free laser-eye surgery for Mr Cannell.

Mr Cannell said: “The clothing will be a massive help in coping with the extremities of the Sahara and my laser eye surgery will ensure I can get the maximum enjoyment from the experience.”

Shakeela Akhtar, of Optical Express, said: “Freddie’s bravery has been truly inspiring to all of our staff.

“We wish him and his family the best of luck on his Saharan adventure.”

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