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African adventure a success for workers
A Melksham man has driven almost 4,000 miles to Africa in an old banger worth £100 to raise money for Help For Heroes.
Andrew Murphy, 48, and colleague Peter Bennett, 44, set off on the Banjul Challenge banger rally to The Gambia earlier this month.
The pair crossed the Sahara desert, lawless regions and minefields in their 1987 Audi 100, which they named Phoebe, to reach the Gambian capital on January 28.
Mr Murphy, who works for the MoD, said: “It’s not called a challenge for no reason.
“I’m extremely pleased that we did it. I’m even more pleased that we achieved the mission and Phoebe will now go to auction at some point.”
The Team Desert Rats’ journey took them from England through Spain and Portugal and on to Morocco before heading along the west of Africa, across the western Sahara, Mauritania and Senegal before reaching The Gambia.
Often there were no roads, or the roads were so poor it took hours to cover short distances. At one point the duo drove 200km and only saw one village.
Among the lowlights were waiting 28 hours on the Moroccan border, and almost getting caught up in a riot when queuing to get a visa into Mauritania.
While crossing Mauritania the rally teams travelled in convoy under armed escort.
Mr Murphy said: “You would see cars at the side of the road that have been blown up or ambushed or whatever. There were extreme highs and lows of emotion.
“One minute you’re on top of the world, making good progress, the next thing is a real low, driving on a non-existent road being banged and clanged.”
However there were plenty of highlights along the way for the pair too.
Mr Murphy said that the scenery would stay with him, as would memories of the many local people he met only the way and the camaraderie among the teams that took part.
“We met a lot of people whose common goal was to reach Banjul with their car,” he said. “We all stuck together and helped each other out. It’s as if we’d all known each other for a long long time. We got a very warm welcome in The Gambia.”
So far the duo have raised £1,000 in sponsorship, which will be split between Help For Heroes and Naomi House Children’s Hospice, although they are still expecting to collect some donations.
To sponsor the pair, visit www.justgiving.com/teamdesertrats.