Matt and his meerkats set for Indian charity trek

DESPITE working in one of the most difficult environments in the world already, Banbridge man Matt Pryme is set to face another challenge when he treks across India next year all in the name of charity.

The father-of-two, who is currently working as a communications contractor in Afghanistan, will travel 3,000 km across India in a three-wheeled rickshaw next May as part of the Rickshaw Run.

Matt and his two teammates Nichole Lewis and Siobhan Birbeck - collectively known as the Meerkats - will compete against more than 40 other teams from around the world.

The Meerkats will donate sponsorship money to both the Royal British Legion and the Frank Water Project. The latter was founded in India five years ago and to date supplies over half a million people in the country with clean water. Matt said both charities are close to the hearts of those involved.

“My friends and I were discussing what it would be like to travel like a local and really meet the people,” said Matt of their inspiration for entering the charity trek. “It seemed selfish to take such a trip without helping the local people and as our work was often for military projects we wanted to help the British Legion and support our troops who do so much for us in Afghanistan and around the world.”

Matt admitted his two sons Geroge and Tom think he is “mad” for volunteering for the race but said he is looking forward to the personal challenge.

“We are fully aware that this will be a hard challenge across some very difficult country and may involve some personal danger but it will be a good personal challenge and by the end we hope to have helped two worthy causes and learned something about ourselves,” he said.

The team, who plan to camp out and occasionally stay in budget hotels along the route, has already covered the €1,200 race entrance fee but is appealing for donations to help them on their way.

“Food, fuel and accommodation on the trip will also be paid for by the team,” said Matt. “Our main priority is to raise funds for the two charities. Donations can be made via the Just Giving website or on the Team Meercats website.

“But we would also benefit greatly from the donations of the following: Camping equipment, safety equipment - first aid kit, maps, GPS and so on, flights, clothing, camera, video recorder.”

Anyone wishing to donate to or sponsor the team can visit their website at http://rickshawrun12s.theadventurists.com/the-meercats or http://www.justgiving.com/Team-Meercats.