While a fair few people have done such expeditions, what makes my solo trip that bit more challenging is that I'm afflicted by Noonan’s Syndrome. .. Don’t worry ! You aren’t the only one not to have heard of it !!
Noonan Syndrome is a relatively common autosomal dominant congenital disorder considered to be a type of dwarfism that affects both males and females equally. The principal features include congenital heart defect, short stature, learning problems, pectus excavatum, impaired blood clotting and a characteristic configuration of facial features. The syndrome is named after Dr. Jacqueline Noonan.
It is believed that between approximately 1 in 1,000 and 1 in 2,500 children worldwide are born with NS. It is one of the most common genetic syndromes associated with congenital heart disease, similar in frequency to Down syndrome. However, the range and severity of features can vary greatly in patients with NS.
Like many individuals diagnosed with the condition, I had a troubled childhood from not only the endless operations, courses of medication and growth hormone regimes, but also from the reaction of others who suggested to me and my family that it would be difficult for me to “lead a normal life” in later years…
Well, with a determined spirit – although I still face further heart operations in the coming years – I decided many years ago to show that people suffering from the condition can lead a rich and fulfilling life. Previously I have made my way on foot and on public transport through Africa from Cape Town to Nairobi, have competed as a member of a “Tall Ship’s” Crew on several occasions and have obtained my “Class 1 HGV Licence” !
To further prove that NS sufferers can be as crazy and active as anyone else and to raise awareness and funds as a “Thank You” to those charities that have assisted me I devised my most recent and ambitious plan…
I raised limited sponsorship from companies based in my home region, prepared my vehicle to “expedition standard”, secured regional radio and press exposure (through my own efforts) and set off.
Unfortunately, despite successfully reaching NordKapp and traversing the Baltic States, Belarus and Ukraine the “wheels came off” (almost literally) 100 miles from the Russian border in Ukraine…
An intoxicated, uninsured driver travelling at night in a small hatchback hit the Land Rover so hard it was turned onto its side ! I escaped unhurt. Sadly the Landy didn’t..!
I managed to limp the badly damaged vehicle back to England where, with the help from friends I have rebuilt it. (It needed a new chassis and some body panels).
Undeterred I set off again in April 2011.
I am determined to complete the exercise to inspire others and to raise significant sums for charity but I can't do this without your help... Will you help me to help others ???