Keynsham pair ready to get behind wheel in 18,000-mile Key2Africa challenge

Published on: 06 Feb 2015

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Two Keynsham friends are now just weeks away from setting off on an epic drive that will take them 18,000 miles to the tip of South Africa.

Mike White, 27, and James Ellis, 22, will be leaving their hometown on March 22 in their LandRover Defender 110 to cross around 20 countries, including France, Spain and Morocco before crossing the African continent to its east coast and then south all the way to Cape Town.

The pair are raising funds for and awareness of the Malawi-based Joshua Orphan and Community Care charity, a cause they first became involved with as members of Keynsham Explorer Scouts.

Mike and James have spent the past few months travelling the country to LandRover shows and other events, drumming up support for their Key2Africa challenge, bringing in not only vital funds for the Malawi project but equipment for the drive.

The former Wellsway students will be living out of their vehicle, which is now fully equipped for the expedition with a roof tent, water cans and even a fridge.

Preparation is now focused on ensuring they have all the documents they need for the journey and planning their route, which will be affected by a major issue that has been making international headlines.

Mike said: "The biggest challenge that we are currently face to the trip is the Ebola virus which has had huge impacts on the countries we can travel through. Our route is constantly being reassessed and as we have said from the very start of the planning, our route is very flexible and won’t be set in stone until the very last moment.

“The vehicle is mechanically as ready as it can be for the trip. And all the expedition equipment, such as roof tent, fridge and battery management system, is now all installed, we just have a few smaller jobs we would like to do which aren't essential, just to make living out of the vehicle easier and more comfortable.”

People in Keynsham got a closer look at the vehicle that will be taking Mike and James across Africa when they attended the town’s Winter Festival in November and James said going to so many events over the past few months has been a real highlight.

He said: “We have spent a lot of weekends at shows and events, but I think we most enjoyed the Billing LandRover Show. It's one of the biggest LandRover events in Europe and we had the vehicle on display.

"On the Saturday evening we held a big barbecue for all our sponsors and friends who were there. We were also asked if we would change a front axle for someone in exchange for a donation to charity, so we did this while having the barbecue and everyone got stuck in – it was a great evening."

Mike and James are holding a farewell party with family, friends and supporters the evening before they leave Keynsham and will set off from Scout HQ in Ashton Way on March 22.

To find out more about the Key2Africa challenge, the Joshua Orphan and Community Care charity and how to donate, go to www.key2africa.org.uk or find them on Facebook or on Twitter @key2africa.

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