‘It was tough but bike trip made me re­alise how lucky we are’

MODEL AMY PED­ALS 300 MILES ACROSS IN­DIA TO RAISE CA

Daily Star Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - ■ EX­CLU­SIVE by JAMES ING­HAM james.ing­ham@dai­lystar.co.uk

SHE has starred on I’m A Celeb and The Jump but Amy Willer­ton says cy­cling across In­dia is one of her great­est achieve­ments.

The model was joined on the ad­ven­ture by her mum Sarah, dad Bruce, boyfriend Dan Day and fam­ily friend Mark Timm.

They put on their cy­cle hel­mets and Ly­cra in hon­our of her younger brother Ross, who has se­vere autism.

Amy, 25, said: “The whole ex­pe­ri­ence has been in­cred­i­ble from start to fin­ish on so many dif­fer­ent lev­els.

“I loved do­ing the Jun­gle and The Jump but this was even bet­ter in many ways, and for com­pletely dif­fer­ent rea­sons.

“I got to ex­pe­ri­ence this along with my mum and dad and my boyfriend. To all be out in In­dia to­gether rais­ing aware­ness and money for the Na­tional Autis­tic So­ci­ety meant a lot to us as a fam­ily.

“We all love Ross to bits but him hav­ing autism has been hard for us as a fam­ily at times. Es­pe­cially for my mum and dad. But at the same time it has also brought us all closer to­gether.

“We are very lucky be­cause we can do a lot of things Ross can’t and that has al­ways made us grate­ful for what we have and we’re de­ter­mined to live our lives to the full.”

Last-minute pass­port and visa is­sues al­most meant Amy missed the trip.

But her flight landed in Delhi just in time for her to catch a train to Agra, the home of the Taj Ma­hal.

I joined Amy and her fam­ily on the trip and got to see one of the seven won­ders of the world be­fore we all slipped on the cy­cling shorts and ped­alled our way to Jaipur. The 300-mile jour­ney from Agra to Jaipur took us six days. De­spite spend­ing around eight hours each day on the bike there was time to cram in a tiger sa­fari, tra­di­tional In­dian danc­ing and some sight­see­ing.

One of the trip’s high­lights was un­ex­pect­edly be­ing in­vited into a vil­lage school to meet the chil­dren.

Af­ter com­plet­ing the epic jour­ney Amy told me: “It was phys­i­cally tough at times but I’m so glad we did it.

“In­dia is such a beau­ti­ful coun­try. The peo­ple are so friendly, es­pe­cially the kids. It was re­ally hum­bling to cy­cle through tiny vil­lages and see all the kids, who have prac­ti­cally noth­ing, run out wav­ing with the big­gest smiles on their faces.

“Or to go into the school and get the warm­est of wel­comes. It re­ally did make you ap­pre­ci­ate how lucky we all are and what’s im­por­tant in life.

“Ly­dia Bright from TOWIE sug­gested we do this Char­ity Chal­lenge and I’m so glad we did. I’d def­i­nitely rec­om­mend it to any­one. It’s hard to put into words how in­cred­i­ble it was.”

Amy has now set off to travel around south-east Asia with Dan be­fore re­turn­ing home to Bris­tol for Christ­mas with the fam­ily.

She said: “Me and Dan are ba­si­cally go­ing around Asia for the next few months. Ev­ery­one keeps ask­ing if we are en­gaged and when are we set­tling down, but we are kind of do­ing the op­po­site.

“We are go­ing off and trav­el­ling the world. We have done the long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ship, we have done the liv­ing to­gether. If we can spend a few months trav­el­ling to­gether with­out fall­ing out it’s a good sign we’ll be to­gether for­ever.”

The trip has so far raised £2,570 but you can still spon­sor Amy and her fam­ily by vis­it­ing just­giv­ing.com/fundrais­ing/ amy­willer­ton.

SO LOVED: Amy with her brother Ross ■

WON­DER: Amy with our James at Taj Ma­hal and, right, try­ing on a sari ■ TRI­UMPH: Amy with pal Mark, mum Sarah, her boyfriend Dan and dad Bruce

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