A GROUP of midwives from Kendal have completed a gruelling coast-to-coast cycle challenge as part of their battle against the ‘brutal’ practice of female genital mutilation (FMG).

The maternity staff from Helme Chase ward at Westmorland General Hospital cycled 176 miles from Morecambe to Bridlington - raising more than £3,000 for a charity which funds awareness courses for girls at risk from FMG in Kenya.

Midwife Cath Holland, who organised the five-day cycle ride, which ended on Monday, said: “We are dedicated to helping our sisters in Kenya make childbirth safer for women and to overcome the brutal traditional practice of genital mutilation of young girls.


“We provide training for around 200 girls during the cutting season in Kenya, where FGM rates are high. The aim is to empower the girls to refuse FGM, which is performed as a rite of passage into womanhood.

“We also give basic training to local midwives in health facilities. The training tries to replicate the traditional rite of passage without any cutting.”

Cath, 64, said Beyond FMG enables girls to gather for a week of seminars and workshops on their human rights, negative health implications, early marriage and child bearing.

“Our programme and campaign is working well. Since 2010, around 1,000 girls have participated in these ‘alternative’ ceremonies and follow up has revealed the majority have remained uncut and are in school.”

Maternity staff who joined Cath on the coast-to-coast ride were Sue Brolly, aged 65, Maggie Turner, 50, Alison Wilson 55, Mary Pattinson 52, Nicola Sowerby-Greenall 50, Mark Sowerby-greenall 51, Jasmine Sowerby-Greenall 24, and Jane Rogan 45.

Former staff members Sarah Leach, 49, and Amanda and Paul Swayne, both 48, also took part.