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Father of two set to join convoy of cops on 3,000 mile mercy mission

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A Fenland police officer will be answering an emergency call of a different kind when he joins a convoy of cops from across Europe next spring.

PC Craig Rothwell, a former beat officer from March, who is now a Cambridgeshire Police training officer, is set to mark the end of his 23-year policing career with an incredible journey alongside officers from France, Germany, Spain and Portugal.

The father of two, who retires next summer, has signed up for the National Police Aid Convoy Charity's mission to deliver much-needed ambulances to Gambia in Africa - a country that is currently without an ambulance service.

Cambs police officer Craig Rothwell who is going to be travelling around Europe and Africa in an Ambulance. (51670275)
Cambs police officer Craig Rothwell who is going to be travelling around Europe and Africa in an Ambulance. (51670275)

Craig who is married to Eva, and has a son Lukas, 18 and 11-year-old daughter Gabrielle, is hoping his days in the army before joining Cambridgeshire Police will hold him in good stead as he and the other officers from the UK and Europe make the arduous 3,000 plus mile journey.

He explained the 35 ambulances, which are all brand new, will be gathered from across Europe to one departure point in Portugal. They will then be sent off heading to Africa in small convoys, travelling initially to Morocco by ship, before being driven down through the Sahara Desert, Mauritania and Senegal where they will once again become one large convoy, before entering Gambia and dispersing across the large country.

Craig, who needs to raise at least £2,500 towards the cost of providing the ambulances and the necessary training for the new ambulance service staff, will be joined by fellow Cambridgeshire officer Inspector Caroline Sully, who is based at police headquarters in Huntingdon.

The expedition, which is expected to take about two weeks, will be setting off in March next year and will also include one fire engine alongside the ambulances.

Craig, 52, said: "It is hard to believe any country is without an ambulance service these days, but Gambia really doesn't have one. As a result there are thousands of unnecessary deaths every year, many of them pregnant women who die on their way to hospital to give birth.

"There are stories of women in labour being transported to hospital in wheelbarrows. By providing the ambulances and the necessary training the initiative will save thousands of lives a year.

"It is a really exciting trip, and a great way to end my policing career. There are 30 UK officers taking part, each one of us had to apply and was chosen for our particular skill sets. Each ambulance will have a crew of three to share the driving - there are 60 officers from across Europe joining us.

"I really must stress that every penny I raise will go to the charity, all the costs of the trip are being paid for myself. We will be camping out of the ambulances on the way there to keep costs down.

"After the ambulances have been delivered we will meet the Gambian president as a thank-you for our efforts, which will be interesting. We will then stay on in Gambia for a few days and again that is all paid for by ourselves, before flying home.

"I'm really looking forward to the expedition, it will certainly be an adventure, and a great way to end my career with the police."

To donate visit the crowdfunding site Justgiving and search Craig's name.

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