Harrogate nurse takes on challenge for Doctors Without Borders

A nurse at Harrogate hospital is planning to cycle 4,000 miles across America in an impressive feat of fundraising for Doctors Without Borders.

Andy Dennis, who works in the hospital’s endoscopy department, has been to Africa three times since 2005 with Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Harrogate nurse Andy Dennis at the clinic in Leer, South Sudan last December with children and carers. (S)

Harrogate nurse Andy Dennis at the clinic in Leer, South Sudan last December with children and carers. (S)

In Uganda and South Sudan, Mr Dennis was part of a team of healthcare professionals taking care of dispossessed and critically unwell people.

Setting up clinics to provide crucial nutrition, he helped many people build up their weight and become much healthier.

He said: “MSF are working in about 60 countries at the moment. The places I have been in have been post-conflict but the people we were looking after in Uganda were dispossessed.

“There were 50,000 people living in one camp, and MSF were looking after six of those camps of varying sizes.

“The ministry of health in these areas just couldn’t cope and they weren’t really provided for in terms of medicine because it just wasn’t possible.

“The demand overwhelms the provision of care, which is why MSF takes over these camps, but also the remote locations mean people just don’t have access to health care.”

Mr Dennis has, however, provided indirect support to the people who really need it from much closer to home.

Walking from Amsterdam to Barcelona in a trip that took three months, he aimed to raise £16,800 for MSF - enough to put two medical staff in the field for a year.

Through the walk and various other fundraising events, including a very popular Burlesque Without Borders at the Manhattan Club in Harrogate, he has raised more than £37,500.

When the hospital he was working at in Leer in South Sudan was burned to the ground shortly after he returned to the UK in December 2013, Mr Dennis then decided he could do more.

“After the hospital burned down I felt helpless, so I decided to raise the target to £100,000,” he said.

“The next plan is a cycle ride across the States from San Francisco to New York City, taking in some other locations to make it up to 4,000 miles.

“I need things that are big scale for people who can then say they have heard of it and associate it with MSF.

“When somebody has cardiac arrest where can you take them? If your loved one falls down who can you call?

“There is nobody, and that is what MSF do. They are that somebody.

“This is the most important think in my life. It gives me purpose.”

See this week’s Harrogate Advertiser (published on Thursday, September 18) for the full interview with Mr Dennis.