Dotty Harpenden divas get pedalling for charities

TWO dotty divas will be taking to the road next month on a 700-mile journey with a target of raising �20,000 for charity.

One of them is Susie Stranders, a former pupil of St George’s School in Harpenden, who made a huge impact on the musical life there before pursuing a glittering professional career.

She is joining forces with acclaimed young soprano Alice Woodbridge to cycle and sing their way across the length of Britain on July 2, just as the Tour de France gets underway .

Susie’s chosen charity will be the MS Society because her close friend from school Becky Raines was diagnosed with the illness in her early twenties and has deteriorated fast. Alice has chosen the Alzheimer’s Society and the girls will visit local branches and care centres related to the two charities during the tour.

Next month’s ride will begin in Wells and they will cycle through some beautiful areas of England before crossing the border to finish with recitals in Scotland, including Edinburgh and Fort William where the ride will finish on July 18.

All the venues and accommodation have been arranged with the help of music societies, festivals, friends and even strangers who have responded to pre-tour calls.

Susie works as a repetiteur at the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne and in Salzburg. She is increasingly in demand as an accompanist working with Bryn Terfel, Jose Cura, Christine Rice, Sir John Tomlinson and Kurt Streit.

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Bryn Terfel commented: “What a wonderful yet challenging idea to tour riding bicycles and performing song cycles and in aid of such wonderful causes. Wish I could have come up with the idea myself. If music be the food of love...ride on!”

The concert programmes will be varied, each centred on a song cycle, but they will also include favourite opera arias as well as light music.

Celebrity guests will join the two women along the way and Mark-Anthony Turnage has agreed to compose a theme tune for Song Cycling, as the fundraising ride has been dubbed.

Earlier this month, Susie’s parents Alan and Andrea Stranders, of Park Hill, Harpenden, held a pre-tour fundraiser with a concert and barbecue in their front garden which was attended by Becky and her parents Caroline and Simon.

Anyone wanting to sponsor Susie and Alice can donate through,/Songcycling-Alzheimers or