Epic adventure across mountains and desert on board Amy Amazon

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Car devotees Claudine Bloom and Andy Twort are due to set off in their vehicle ‘Amy Amazon’ to take part in the epic Peking to Paris Rally (P2P).

The Lewis residents expect their adventure, which begins on June 10th, will take them 36 days and they hope to raise money for the children’s hospice Chestnut Tree House and for local charity The Leanne Fund.

Describing how the whole idea came about Andy, said: “Claudine suggested driving the Peking to Paris 2016 with the same casualness as asking if I fancied a cuppa. If I recall correctly she actually said “how do you fancy finding a car, preparing it and driving it in the P2P”.

“Whilst this seemed to be a bolt from the blue, something had triggered this adventure and wanderlust. We had been in the Lenham Café at the start of a Blackpalfrey twelve car and Claudine had seen the various rally plates with exotic place names upon them.

“The idea of a serious long distance event was now planted in her mind. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to agree to such a voyage, the hunt was on, we needed a car.

“Like many HRCR (Historic Rally Car Register) members we already had far too many cars but were any of them suitable? The older couple of cars were too basic, fragile and small. The only possible member of the fleet was the Triumph 2000, but we decided that ‘Tommy the Triumph’ was definitely not the correct car.

“We then considered heaps of different cars and finally decided that the Volvo 120 or 140 was the right car for us. The search was on.

“Living on the Isle of Lewis has many wonderful advantages; however looking for cars really isn’t one of them. We bought ‘Amy Amazon’ on New Year’s Eve 2014, she was in Pembrokeshire, had four doors, two carbs, looked ok and drove with not too many clunks!”

Amy Amazon is a 1965 Volvo Amazon which has been specially modified for the P2P event.

The rally will take the couple through vast expanses of the Gobi Desert, where they are camping for ten nights, over the mountain ranges and plains of southern Siberia and finally the exciting mountain passes of the Alps.

The couple’s preparations are well underway and they visited the Nicolson Institute on March 10th to show off Amy Amazon to the pupils.

Talking about how they decided which charities to support, Claudine explained: “We were trying to find small charities particularly helping children and their families. We looked long and hard.

“We were lucky enough to be shown round the Hospice run by the Chestnut Tree House helping children with life limiting diseases and one could not but be moved with the work they do and it just felt right to support them.”

She added: “We wanted a specifically island based children’s charity here and after much research heard of the Leanne Fund.

“We met with Chrisetta and William Mitchell who told us of the harrowing story of losing their daughter Leanne to Cystic Fibrosis and how they started the charity to help children and their families in the Highlands and Islands.

“It fitted in with Chestnut Tree House and we are very proud to be supporting them both.”

Giving an insight into how important the work of the Leanne Fund is, a local couple, said of their experience: “We have been so thankful to have been helped by the Leanne Fund.

“Looking after a child with such a high maintenance condition often means parents can’t work. Because I decided to give up my job a couple if years ago, money is tight - and the first items to go are the things people might regard as luxury. The help we have had for much needed holidays has been invaluable. We have made so many happy memories with this help and are ours to keep for ever.

“We also really appreciate the help to cover the cost of all the hospital trips. It’s amazing how much a hot chocolate or a coffee can soothe after a stressful procedure and when hospital admissions often last two weeks it really can take its toll on your pocket.

“The second thing I would say is that CF is an exhausting and upsetting illness to live with, so often people see a well child and don’t really understand what is involved.

“The work that goes into keeping a child well is constant and never ending. Not so many conditions involve quite so much intervention. The breaks, the treats and the support is vital to their quality of life.

“To get people to think about why it might be good to support the Leanne Fund is to ask them to imagine having to take dozens of tablets and do exhausting treatments every single day - several times - just to stay well.

“The Leanne Fund is like a ray of sunshine in our life and we are very grateful for their support.”

If you would like to support the two causes highlighted by Andy and Claudine’s efforts log on to the just giving page for the Leanne Fund: here

And for the Chestnut Tree House at: website

Pictured with Amy Amazon during the visit to the Nicolson Institure are William and Chrisetta with Andy.