A FORMER Royal Engineers captain turned physics teacher cycled almost 1,000 miles to raise money for new toilets in Africa. 

Dani French, who teaches at Lewes Old Grammar School, cycled the 949-miles from John O'Groats to Land's End and raised £1652 for charities WaterAid and Surfers Against Sewage.

Water Aid is an international non-governmental organisation that focuses on water, sanitation, and hygiene.

Surfers Against Sewage is a marine conservation charity working with communities to protect oceans, waves, beaches, and marine life.

The former Sandhurst graduate got the idea when she was at the mini library at the bus stop in St Buryan near Land's End in Cornwall last summer.

She found the book The Big Necessity, which explores the world of modern sanitation, starting with the startling fact that 2.5 billion people in the world have no toilet.

It details why diarrhoea is the second biggest killer of children under five worldwide and how preventable it is through better sanitation.

The information spurred Dani, who served for eight years, including an operational tour to Afghanistan, to act.

Although she had little experience with long-distance cycling, she decided to raise money doing the famous John O'Groats to Land's End trip by bike.

The 42-year-old said: "Back in 2018, the longest I had ever ridden on a bike was 12 miles.

"I started practising that September by cycling from my home in Pyecombe to Lewes Old Grammar School, and I honestly wondered halfway if I'd even make it home after a full day's teaching.

"That one day of cycling became a twice a week event, no matter how cold and wet it was outside, which led to my ten-day solo trip recently.

"I averaged 95 miles a day, but the longest was 125 miles and the shortest 74 as I had to link up locations where I had acquired accommodation.

"For the middle four days, my family came up and met me in the evenings, which was a welcome break.

"I credit my home to school commute across the South Downs Way, especially those mornings and evenings in the dark and wet, with the resilience needed just to keep going."

If you would like to support her fundraising, go to: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/BigNecessity