Adventurers set off on epic journey

A TEAM of intrepid adventures from Essex are to travel through war-torn countries and kidnapping hotspots on a charity mission to South Africa in a bid to raise tens of thousands for charity.

James Hore

A TEAM of intrepid adventures from Essex are to travel through war-torn countries and kidnapping hotspots on a charity mission to South Africa in a bid to raise tens of thousands for charity.

Tendring Water Aid team will travel a total of 16,000 miles from Great Bentley, near Colchester, in three Land Rovers for the mission they have called the “West Way Down”.

The adventurers gathered at Great Bentley village green on Saturday morning and were joined by family, friends, well-wishers and other Land Rover drivers who turned out in support.


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After a blessing from Canon Bernard Metcalfe, they set out with a convoy of other vehicles following them.

There are five full members; farmers George Wright, Sam Lawrence and Robert MacDonald, electrical engineer Mick Johnson and his son Martin.

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The sixth seat is being filled by a relay of co-drivers including Edward Wright, a tree surgeon and Charlie Wright of FennWright estate agents and Martins Aleksandrovs.

Their route is through Europe to the tip of Spain, followed by a ferry to Ceute-Fez in Morocco.

From there they will venture through the Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkino Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Namibia and finally to South Africa and are due to arrive in February.

It is the second time the Tendring Water Aid team has travelled to Cape Town having previously taken a route down the east coast of Africa three years ago.

Team leader George Wright said: “One of the biggest worries is that we are going through five countries that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against travelling in.

“There is a war going on in the Congo but we will be about 1,500 miles away from where it is happening so it should be fine.

“In Nigeria, there have been kidnappings, but that is usually of oil workers who are quite static whereas we will be on the move all the time,” he said.

The team has a satellite phone with them and will be doing daily updates for their website.

“One message I would like to get across is that we have funded the vehicles and the driving ourselves and all the money raised goes to Water Aid - not to pay for our trip.

“It is a very practical charity where you can see what they have done with the money raised - everyone knows about the problem with Aids in Africa, but a lot more people die each year from diseases related to not having clean water.”

The first trip raised more than £60,000 for the charity and they already have nearly £10,000 this time.

The group chose to raise money for Water Aid after Vanessa Botterill, the sister of one of Mr Wright's farm workers, contracted what was believed to be mengril malaria in Africa and died aged 24 in 1997.

The team will stop in Ghana to visit a project that has been supported by their previous fundraising efforts.

To follow the progress, or to make a donation, visit website www.colchestertocapetown.com.

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