Couple’s make overland odyssey to help charities
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.
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’’.