Aylesbury businessmen raise Orchid charity cash after 4000 mile drive across Europe

Aylesbury Businessmen take on the 21 hour a day charity challenge riding across Europe to raise funds for men's cancer charity, Orchid.

Monday, 18th November 2019, 2:57 pm
Updated Monday, 18th November 2019, 4:35 pm
Simon, Alan and Thunderbolt the car

Simon Taylor and Alan Hunt took on the gruelling 4000 mile charity challenge as part of the 'back and forth' rally, to raise funds for Orchid.

Orchid exists to save men's lives from testicular, prostate and penile cancer through pioneering research and promoting awareness.

The 4000 mile rally started in Calais and ends in Amsterdam, via: Luxembourg, Stuttgart, Munich, Zagreb, Rome, Athens, Sofia, Bucharest, Budapest and Vienna.

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The full squad in Athens

They absolutely smashed their fundraising target of £2,000 - raising more than £6,000.

First thing they had to do was to purchase a Mini Cooper for less than £1,000 - and complete the journey with the roof down at all times, throughout wind rain and snow!

Speaking to the Bucks Herald, Simon Taylor said: “It was a fantastic and very rewarding experience, even though it was incredibly tiring as, together with my co-driver, Alan Hunt, we had lot of driving to do in order to meet the criteria of the charity challenge.

"Under the rules of the rally, we drove 21 hours a day with the roof down in all weathers, but seeing all the amazing landmarks along the way made it a brilliant experience and we were spurred on by all the mounting donations on our Just Giving page. But, at times, it really did feel like we were on a BBC Top Gear challenge.”

This is not the first time Simon Taylor had taken part in a charity driving challenge.

A few years ago, he raised money for Help For heroes in a charity driving rally to the North Pole.

He said he swore he'd never do it again, but said he was inspired to help raise money for Orchid as one of his fellow directors was diagnosed with cancer.

Simon said: “One of our directors was diagnosed with cancer this year. We chose the Orchid Charity for male cancer as the number of people diagnosed with specific male cancers is increasing and it is not talked about enough.

"The charity is absolutely brilliant at raising awareness and providing support for people. By choosing Orchid we were both raising money for a very deserving cause, and one which is now very close to my heart.”

Their car, named 'Thunderbolt' survived the paces of the rally very well, only suffering a rear light bulb blow out when they were crossing the Channel from France back to England.

Luckily they had a spare.

He added: "One of the highlights of the trip was going over the border into Serbia which was an experience because it was really raining that day and the wait was long. All of us with our

roofs down got absolutely soaked.”

“Throughout Europe, the roads were amazing – not a pothole in sight, and it did make me think about the state of our own roads in Britain.

"I was surprised how good they were and also the incredible amount of civil engineering that has taken place, for which I have a great appreciation. I have never seen tunnels through mountains quite like it and I was astounded at the high quality of roads and bridges throughout the journey.

“So much scenery was breathtaking and I could not believe how good the roads were in Greece, but the worst roads we encountered were in Bulgaria, where not only did they

shake some of my fillings out, but my teeth too!”

He concluded that despite it being painstaking and uncomfortable, it only took reflecting on why he doing it to strengthen his resolve to finish the challenge.

Simon said: “While taking on any challenge like this will always be somewhat painstaking and uncomfortable for many personal reasons, you always have to think about why you are

doing it - and that is to raise money for charity.

"Throughout the journey, our Just Giving page was continually updated and we kept receiving donations.

"But, even before we set off, we undertook a PR campaign for the challenge in my trade press which resulted in a vast amount of donations from suppliers to my business, Simon Taylor Furniture. We even kindly received donations from direct competitors, who wished us luck along the way.

“We were also amazingly supported by Impact Signs in Aylesbury, who donated the print of all the sponsor logos on our car and we cannot thank them enough. It is that, and all the support that we received from friends, clients and business people that keeps you driving, even when you just want to just pull up and go to sleep.

“Meanwhile, I also have to credit my little Mini Cooper Convertible. I can’t believe how comfortable it was and I hardly suffered from any aches or pains at all during the long drive. Mini is having its 60th anniversary this year, and I think it is a great car to drive.”