Whoever would have thought that your kid's legacy might take the form of a 10,000 mile ambulance drive to Mongolia?
Two years ago on Karn Richmond’s birthday, he found himself having a lengthy discussion with his friend Ed Harrison about leaving a “legacy” for his kids, although his thinking was more along the lines of a new house build rather than a 10,000 mile drive across rugged, totally unfamiliar terrain to Mongolia.
Karn’s wife bought him the DVD “Long Way Round” for his birthday, much to his puzzlement. He didn’t really care for motorbikes; it sat on the shelf for months until he finally got around to watching it. Despite his reservations, he was gripped by the story of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, who rode around the world in aid of UNICEF. Whilst searching for a similar experience, Ed came across the Mongol Rally, a trek organised by a group called The Adventurists. Ominously, The Adventurists warn entrants: “This is not a glorified holiday. It's an unsupported adventure and so by its very nature extremely risky. You really are on your own and you really are putting both your health and life at risk. That's the whole point.”
Karn and Ed were joined by Ed’s younger brother Tom, and together formed “The League of Mentalmen”. The Mongol Rally’s chosen charity is Lotus Children’s Centre Charitable Trust, who work with vulnerable children in Mongolia. They will spend a day with the children at the orphanage who benefit from this charity. The Mentalmen are also raising funds for Teenage Cancer Trust, a charity close to their hearts due to friends and family affected by cancer.
The Mentalmen chose an ambulance due to practicality (they could sleep in it, for example). Remarkably, Karn found the ambulance on eBay. It had been in active duty right up until the day before he took ownership of it, and it will go back in service again in Mongolia when it is left with the local hospital. Five other participants are also taking ambulances.
The route is 10,000 miles, starting in England, across the north of Europe, through Russia to Mongolia in 28 days (although the Mentalmen hope to do it in 24.) So far, things are running smoothly. Agents have arranged their visas, they eventually secured their motor insurance, and have learned the Russian alphabet and a few useful words such as “bank” and “garage.”
The Mentalmen have been raising awareness of their trek through interviews and visits to local schools. At one primary school, the children bombarded Karn and Ed with dozens of questions asking where they’ll go to the toilet, where they’ll sleep, what they’ll eat and the most pressing question of all, what’s their favourite colour? (Yellow, Karn said.)
Using a Kindle (their only device that will provide online access for their entire journey, Karn says), the men will upload a blog post every night and fit their ambulance with a GPS tracker so their location can be displayed on their site. They also plan to take a photo every 4-5 hours and post it on the blog.
So far they have raised approximately £6,000 and hope to raise a total of £10,000. Petrol costs alone are estimated at £1,500, in addition to the hefty fees for vital equipment and insurance. They are still in need of a few small items on their “wish list”, but Karn says that they are most in need of donations.
The Mentalmen will be out with their buckets collecting donations in the following locations:
Sat 2nd June: Huntingdon High Street
Tues 5th June: Victoria Square Fete, Huntingdon
Sat 7th July: Godmanchester Gala Day