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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 August, 2005, 06:36 GMT 07:36 UK
Landmine victim to cycle desert
Stuart Hughes
Stuart Hughes at the British Olympic Association hot chamber
A television producer who lost a leg in a landmine explosion in Iraq, is set to cycle 200 miles through the desert to help other victims.

Stuart Hughes, 33, who is from Cardiff, will tackle the marathon ride through Death Valley in California in November.

He said "over 100 countries have a landmine problem and so a lot of people are living in death valleys - areas littered with landmines".

Mr Hughes was injured in April 2003 covering the Iraq conflict for the BBC.

He suffered blast injuries when he stepped onto a land mine shortly after getting out of his jeep in the small northern Iraqi town of Kifri.

I went to Cambodia about a year ago and I was genuinely shocked because there were little children playing six inches away from a minefield
Stuart Hughes

His Iranian colleague Kaveh Golestan - a Pulitzer-prize winning photographer - confused the blast with artillery fire and dived for cover. He died instantly after landing on a second land mine.

Mr Hughes, who now lives in Ealing, London, was taken to hospital at a US military base and his right leg was later amputated below the knee.

Since then, cycling has played an important part in Mr Hughes' rehabilitation and return to fitness and to his job with the BBC.

Now he is hoping to raise £30,000 to help other victims and support the work of the mine clearance charity Mines Advisory Group (Mag).

'Cambodia'

"Having goals like this keeps my motivation up," he said.

"I wanted to draw attention to the work of Mag - this seemed appropriate.

"It really is an everyday problem. I went to Cambodia about a year ago and I was genuinely shocked because there were little children playing six inches away from a minefield."

Death Valley
Death Valley in mid-summer is the hottest place on the planet

Mr Hughes will be wearing a carbon fibre blade-shaped artificial leg when he joins a four-strong team taking part in the four-day Death Valley challenge.

They will set off from Lone Pine in November, just two months after Mr Hughes marries his fiancé Aileen Meldrum.

One of the toughest challenges in the 200-mile trip will be the 13-mile 3,800 foot climb to the top of the famous Town Pass.

Gulf War

The cyclists will then drop over 5,000 feet to Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek, then on to Badwather, which at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in the United States.

Then the riders will make for Shoshone, before heading north to the finish line at Death Valley junction.

Mag, a not-for-profit non-governmental organisation, has been clearing mines since the last Gulf War in 1992.

In that time it claims to have destroyed hundreds of thousands of mines and unexploded bombs in 20 countries from Angola to Vietnam.




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