Matt and Coco Morley have swapped their flat in Tooting, southwest London, for 12 months in a tent after taking on a year-long global challenge cycling from London to Tokyo to raise money for international development charity Mercy Ships. The funds raised will help to support life-changing surgery in the world's poorest nations.
The intrepid pair, who both work for the Department of Education, have pedalled more than 4,000 km so far. They have cycled their way through 13 countries and battled their way through numerous challenges such as flat tyres, stomach bugs and getting stuck in tar. But the determined duo, who married in September 2020 after having to change their wedding plans and invite a greatly reduced guest list, were determined the pandemic would not stop them from supporting those who need it most.
Coco, 31, said, "We are very fortunate that we can stop work and do this. I've always been interested in everything medical. I have a couple of friends with medical jobs who have volunteered in Africa to give amazing gifts to help people access healthcare. We want to help people in other countries access what we have daily, that we are so fortunate to have."
Mercy Ships has made an impact on Matt since he was a teenager, when it was the charity supported at his secondary school and a speaker visited them with a powerful message about the charity's work.
Matt, 30, said, "We both want to explore different cultures, meet people who are different and expand our minds. But we also want to simplify and strip back from all the stuff in our lives and be grateful for the tent above our heads. We want to use it as a chance to worship and experience and appreciate creation."
The couple have put all their belongings into storage and managed to fit their lives for the next year into just nine bags – along with a range of gadgets and gizmos to make life a bit easier.
Matt said, "My favourite thing for the trip is a device that converts energy from the bike pedalling into a charger so we can charge our devices!"
While they both lament that they miss family, friends and real beds as they sleep on their camping mats, they both praised their supporters for their prayer, support and sponsorship.
Matt added, "They're all sad to see us go but we have had so much helpful advice and they can track our location when they like, so that helps them."
They set off on May 30 and have already travelled through Spain, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, north Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan. They are covering all costs themselves and donating all fundraising to Mercy Ships.
To help the couple hit their target of £5,000, which they are nearing, visit their JustGiving page