Saturday, July 26, 2014

Intrepid Exeter friends embark on epic fundraising journey to Mongolia

Two intrepid friends have embarked on a 20,000-mile round trip from Exeter to Mongolia to generate funds for charity.

Jon Waller, a mountain bike guide at Haldon Forest and Ben Stockton, who is a health care assistant for the NHS, are taking on the incredible Mongol Rally in a 14-year-old Citreon Saxo.

The 25-year-olds from Exeter have already raised £1,700 in aid of Cornwall based ShelterBox, which provides emergency humanitarian relief supplies to conflict zones, and Cool Earth which works to halt the destruction of the world’s rainforests working along side their indigenous communities.

Team Scone to Mongolia set off on July 20, and their expedition will see the young men, who have a satellite tracker in their car for people to ‘live track’ them, crossing 22 countries, two deserts, two seas and traversing the second highest highway on the planet.

“We were initially inspired to do something for ShelterBox after seeing the amazing work they do on the news,” explained Jon who dressed up as Where’s Wally at the Christmas Day Swim in Exmouth to raise awareness of their venture.

“At the time Ben was also looking to buy a new car and replace his ageing Saxo but didn’t want his first car to be retired without a bang!

“The Mongol Rally gave us the perfect opportunity to do both.

“Both ShelterBox and Cool Earth do excellent work but we are particularly proud to be supporting ShelterBox who distribute aid to areas hit by natural disasters.

“These aid boxes include everything a family needs to set up a temporary home along with water purification, sanitation equipment and tools to rebuild.

“Having recently visited the Philippines and seeing the devastation caused by typhoon Haiyan in the media, it is humbling to see such a small and locally based charity having a huge impact on Philippine communities.”

The friends concede that getting to grips with the logistics of their journey have been challenging.

“Such a journey through so many countries are, to say the least, a challenge!” continued Jon.

“We have spent the last six months collecting visas, letters of invitation and route knowledge.

“Due to visa restrictions our route to and from Mongolia is quite strict.

“We have no support en route so fingers crossed that we have our facts right!

“Luckily we were kindly gifted a Haynes manual, that should offset our limited mechanical knowledge!”

He added: “We are most looking forward to meeting lots of local people and the Pamir highway – the second highest road in the world.

“And on the flip side, we are least looking forward to the border crossings outside of Europe, hours of waiting, car searches and bribery, so our research says!”

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