Northumberland man on last leg of epic charity cycle ride to Brazil

Hugh Thompson has travelled through 24 countries in a year of cycling to reach Brazil in time for the World Cup opening ceremony Hugh Thompson on his Ride to Rio trek raising money for UK charity TackleAfrica
Hugh Thompson on his Ride to Rio trek raising money for UK charity TackleAfrica

He’s spent almost a year getting there but now Hugh Thompson is finally tantilisingly close to the World Cup.

Hugh, from Wark, Northumberland, set off from the UK last July on an epic cyle ride to Brazil - the long way round.

And along the way he’s encountered everything from altitude sickness in the Andes to torrential rain in Java and being chased by dogs in Bulgaria.

He’s topped 20,000 kilometres of cycling, visited 24 countries and raised £14,000 for charity TackleAfrica, and now he is embarking on the final leg of his challenge.

Hugh said: “It’s been really tough going at times, but the people I’ve met along the way have been absolutely fantastic. From verbal encouragement and slaps on the back to free food, shelter and donations, the kindness of strangers has been a real theme throughout the trip so far.


“I know first-hand the power of football to change lives, and the incredible work that TackleAfrica can do with the money I’m raising. That provides real motivation to keep going through all the hills and heatwaves.”

Hugh, who celebrated his 30th birthday on the trip, set off from London last July - almost a year ahead of the first World Cup games - with a route to Rio which would take him through five continents.

He started by heading south east through Europe before dropping down into Africa, then jetting over to India, travelling through Asia to Australia, and then hopping on another flight to South America.

The route has seen him cycle in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, along the banks of the River Ganges and across the salt flats of Bolivia.

He has also played a game of football in each country he travels through, and has delivered coaching sessions to help deliver HIV education through sport.

Hugh is now in Argentina, the second-to-last country on his list. He is due to arrive in Brazil in the next fortnight, and aims to be in Sao Paulo in time for the World Cup opening ceremony.

Hugh, who spent 10 months coaching youngsters at the New York Red Bulls professional football club ahead of his trip, was inspired to take on the challenge after volunteering for TackleAfrica in Uganda in the lead-up to the 2010 World Cup finals.

He has already raised nearly £14,000 of his £20,000 target for the UK-based charity, which delivers HIV education through football coaching to young Africans.

Hugh, whose parents Jamie and Mandy have a farm near Wark, gave up his London-based job with the charity Street League to take on the Ride2Rio challenge.

And his folks jetted out to see how he was getting on in Australia - with dad Jamie even joining him for part of the route.

Hugh added: “I’ve always wanted to do some form of long-distance cycle ride. The 2014 World Cup in Brazil just seemed like a great opportunity and this whole concept had a real pull for me. I have a massive passion for development through football.

“When I volunteered for TackleAfrica in Uganda I saw at first hand how football can be used as a platform for positive social change. The charity’s work really shows the power of football to change people’s lives.”

TackleAfrica currently runs long-term programmes in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia, and has also trained coaches in Ghana, South Africa and Lesotho.

Last year TackleAfrica trained 465 coaches who delivered regular HIV education to 18,000 young Africans, both male and female.

Anyone who wants to support his fundraising efforts can donate at or you can sponsor Hugh £5 by texting HUGH81 £5 to 70070.

For more details visit or follow him on Twitter.


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