Seven people from Georgeham who were planning to run a marathon in Gaza have been forced to change their plans after the run was controversially cancelled.
The group was planning to run 26 miles of the Gaza Strip to raise money for UN-sponsored summer camps for Palestinian children.
However, an announcement today by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency revealed the marathon has been cancelled after the ruling Hamas movement refused to allow women to run.
Paul Trueman, 38, from Georgeham, was part of the group which signed up to take part in the marathon seven weeks ago.
The 38-year-old said it was a shame the run had been cancelled but said the group was still determined to raise money for the charity.
He said: “It’s a real shame but we will still do something painful to raise money for charity.
“If we can’t go over to Gaza, we will still run another marathon, perhaps somewhere local. Our aim is to still raise as much money as we can for the UN's summer camps and ultimately try to turn all this into a positive. Our plan is to still run 26 miles at some point, if not in Gaza then over here. It will be tough, Gaza would have been hot and flat but the conditions in North Devon are completely different.
“We are all gutted to not be able to do it but it really highlights the need for the UN do their work over there.
“The authorities have missed a point to put Gaza in a good light in front of the world’s media. It is a real shame. We are determined to still do something and hope a positive will come out of it.
“The summer camps are important because they give the girls and boys over there the chance to do something that isn’t run by Hamas. It gives them the chance to just be kids.”
The group, which is made up of Mark Hagley, Steve Baker, Dave Greer, Ali Smith, Rich Elliott, Sa’ad Hossain and Paul, still plan to host a fundraising night later this month.
The ‘dance and drinks’ night will be held at Pickwell Manor on Friday, March 22, and will help raise funds for the UNRWA's summer camps.
Tickets are £10 and can be purchased by calling 01271 890110 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
To sponsor the group visit www.justgiving.co.uk/baggybreakfastclub.