A SOUTH Gloucestershire care home owner and his daughter are gearing up to take part in the world’s toughest footrace.

Len Collacot, 58, and his daughter Laura, 29, from Bristol are raising money for charity by undertaking Marathon des Sables – an extremely challenging 250km footrace across the Sahara Desert – in April.

Mr Collacot owns two care homes with his wife KatY. They run Windmill House in Old Down, near Thornbury and Osbourne Court in Stoke Gifford.

It will be the first time that the family duo have attempted the race, which has been ranked the toughest footrace in the world by the Discovery Channel.

The conditions are extremely difficult, with competitors forced to carry all their own gear, water is rationed and competitors have to withstand temperatures of over 50 degrees – the equivalent of a slow cooker.

Mr Collacot said: “Trying to train for desert conditions in the conditions we’ve had here in the UK over the past few weeks has made it hard for us”.

In a bid to climatize the pair have been doing bikram yoga – yoga in a room heated to 40 degrees.

The duo will be raising money for two very important charities – Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft charity, and All as One, a charity that takes care of orphaned and abandoned children in Sierra Leone.

They are looking sponsorship in order to reach their huge target of £10,000, which will be split equally between the two charities.

The money raised will pay for cleft repair surgeries that will make a significant difference to the lives of very poor children in the developing world, who would otherwise be unable to smile or even eat or speak properly and would face lives of pain, loneliness and isolation.

As the Marathon des Sables is a very challenging race, Len and Laura have been training incredibly hard.

Mr Collacot said: “Marathon des Sables is a one-off chance for me to take part in something I really want to do. I am lucky enough to be doing it with my daughter and I am very fortunate to be the father of three healthy children. This is my opportunity to give something back for my good luck and help out those suffering from an untreated cleft lip and palate and those born in the third world and put into orphanages.”

Ms Collacot said: “It is heartbreaking that so many thousands of children suffer from untreated cleft lip and palates, which leaves them disfigured and consequently outcast from society. The race is an amazing opportunity to raise money that could change a person’s life forever.”

For more information about their 250km challenge visit http://collacotts.wix.com/mds2014#!donate/c1ghi and to donate, visit their Virgin Money Giving page: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=LenAndLauraMDS&isTeam=true