Cou­ple’s make over­land odyssey to help char­i­ties

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By JEREMY SMITH

Four months, 22 coun­tries, 20,000km and a van called Chezza. What a jour­ney.

Chris Pevreal, orig­i­nally from Mata­mata, and Laura Glas­gow are in the midst of trav­el­ling from New­cas­tle, Eng­land to Bei­jing, China over­land in a 2003 Citroen Dis­patch panel van with 100,000km on the clock.

They have nick­named it Cheryl, or Chezza af­ter The Toons’ fa­mous Cheryl Cole.

It’s a jour­ney through­out which the pair is rais­ing money for three char­i­ties – the North Of Eng­land Chil­dren’s Can­cer Re­search Fund, or NECCR, the Half the Sky char­ity, formed to en­rich the lives of or­phaned chil­dren in China and Mon­go­lia, and the Can­cer So­ci­ety of New Zealand.

Speak­ing Mata­mata last Thurs­day from Ece­abat on the Gal­lipoli penin­su­lar in

to the Chron­i­cle Turkey, where they had just fin­ished a tour of AN­ZAC bat­tle grounds, Chris said so far they have about 500 Bri­tish pounds in their NECCR and Half the Sky char­ity ac­counts and are now turn­ing their at­ten­tion to rais­ing funds for the Can­cer So­ci­ety.

He and Laura and have been liv­ing and work­ing in New­cas­tle for al­most two years and their amaz­ing jour­ney stemmed from the fact their visas were run­ning out and they were look­ing to get home.

Nei­ther of them though, were keen on a 30 hour flight, Chris said.

The plan for their jour­ney over land was hatched early March and the route set­tled in late April, so there wasn’t much time make spe­cific plans be­fore their evic­tion date from the United King­dom on June 17. Af­ter buy­ing ‘Chezza’, the pair set off.

‘‘We fig­ured we may as well take ad­van­tage of be­ing job­less, home­less and, with some pounds tucked away, have a crack at driv­ing to Bei­jing,’’ Chris said.

‘‘It seemed a bit of a joke to start with, but we did some in­ter­net re­search into it and re­alised the jour­ney can be done – at least as far as Mon­go­lia be­cause China is no-go in a pri­vate ve­hi­cle.’’

Given that, they will leave their van in Mon­go­lia and catch the train from there to China to end their jour­ney.

And then came the de­sire to raise money for char­ity while com­plet­ing the drive, mo­ti­vated in a big way by per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘We chose the char­i­ties we have se­lected be­cause they are mean­ing­ful char­i­ties to New Zealand, the United King­dom, and China, where we are head­ing to.

‘‘ But also partly be­cause I was per­son­ally af­fected by los­ing a close fam­ily mem­ber – my nana who lived in Cam­bridge – this year,’’ Chris said.

‘‘ So, fundrais­ing to­wards can­cer re­search has nat­u­rally more of an emo­tional am­bi­tion for me.’’

The dis­tance of 20,000km was a con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mate.

‘‘ That is the di­rect route to Mon­go­lia through the coun­tries we are vis­it­ing, but we seem to be de­vi­at­ing quite a lot while we are ex­plor­ing,’’ Chris quipped.

While the whole trip has been unique, there have been some high­lights too.

‘‘The best coun­try we have vis­ited so far has been Ro­ma­nia – we tested the van out on some very mon­grel roads and saw some wild scenery, in­clud­ing driv­ing the Transfa­garasan, which is the best road in the world as voted by tele­vi­sion pro­gramme Top Gear, and bear spot­ting in the Carpathian moun­tains.

‘‘ Our tour through the Gal­lipoli bat­tle grounds has also been a high­light and quite emo­tional to lis­ten to and to see some New Zealand his­tory this far from home.’’

Look­ing ahead, Chris said the plan is to spend­ing a month in Turkey col­lect­ing the nec­es­sary visas they need to move on to the next bor­der.

‘‘Trav­el­ling so far has been mostly great fun. Europe is easy go­ing. We have been do­ing a mix­ture of camp grounds and free camp­ing.

‘‘The rest of this trip is go­ing to a dif­fer­ent story, with lan­guage bar­ri­ers, no camp grounds, don­key cart tracks, food poi­son­ing, re­mote­ness and sear­ing heat to name a few hur­dles. Very soon, Europe will seem like lux­ury travel.’’

From Turkey the pair will head into Iran, then Turk­menistan, Uzbek­istan, Kyr­gyzs­tan, Kaza­khstan, Rus­sia and into Mon­go­lia – to fin­ish some­where near the cap­i­tal of Ulaan­baatar.

‘‘We in­tend on do­nat­ing our van and most of our be­long­ings there, then jumping on a train to Bei­jing to fly home.’’

And that is a des­ti­na­tion they ex­pect to reach by Novem­ber.

Photo: SUP­PLIED

Mov­ing ex­pe­ri­ence: Chris Pevreal, orig­i­nally from Mata­mata, and Laura Glas­gow pic­tured be­fore vis­it­ing An­zac Cove. They say the ex­pe­ri­ence of vis­it­ing such sights while in Turkey has been ‘‘quite emo­tional’’.

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