NINETEEN-year old Anna Saxby of Darlington has caught the travel bug after returning from a gruelling 80-mile jungle trek in memory of her father.

The ten-day South American challenge organised by Macmillan Cancer Relief saw the former Hummersknott School pupil set off for Costa Rica last month to raise £3,500 for the charity.

Since returning, she has visited her two sisters in Switzerland and plans to jet off to Australia and South Africa before starting her degree course in German and Spanish at Leeds University in September.

She and her mother are also going to Florida after they won a holiday in a competition.

It was her father's battle with bowel cancer that inspired her Costa Rican adventure.

Determined to help the Macmillan appeal following the death of 58-year-old father, Bob, two years ago, she threw herself into months of fundraising to raise the £2,500 needed to take the trip.

The target was exceeded by £1,000, thanks to pupils at Hummersknott School, who undertook a sponsored walk in the Lake District, Mowden Park Rugby Club, which staged a pub quiz, Blackwell Golf Club, where Mr Saxby was a member, which held a charity tournament, and a fun day held by the Choristers' School in Durham where her mother, Carol, works as a dyslexic support teacher.

Dodmire Infants' School in Darlington also helped sponsor the trek by donating money for its mascot, Doddy the Bear, to go on the adventure. Family and friends also gave generously.

A three-month training regime in the gym and pool increased her stamina and determination.

"We had feedback from the previous group who did the trek and they recommended we train as hard as we could," she told the D&S Times, "and I'm so pleased we did.

"For the first three days, we were above 2,000 metres and the weather was just like here on a warm summer's day, but once we dropped below that it was hot and sticky with some days about 38 to 39 degrees.

"But it was a wonderful experience and one I will never forget."

Her mother laughed as she remembered the final phone call from her daughter: "She rang me from a hotel when she reached the end and said she was in paradise. Puzzled why the end of the trip should be like paradise, I asked her why. The answer was, 'because I've finally had a shower'," she said.

Anna, now working in a town centre shop to fund her next trips, knows her future does not lie in retailing.

"I really would like a job which entails lots of foreign travel," she said.

Macmillan Cancer Relief accepts the donation of foreign coins via high street banks.