In 2013, Jeremy Ireland's mother was admitted to Rowcroft's Inpatient Unit. She later died at home with her family around her, supported by Rowcroft's Hospice at Home team.
Three years on, Jeremy is planning to tackle what is dubbed the 'greatest adventure in the world,' the Mongol Rally, in order raise funds and awareness of how Rowcroft helped his family. The gruelling challenge requires Jeremy and four team mates to travel 10,000 miles from London to Russia. With no set route, heavily eroded roads damaged by earthquakes and 3,000 mile sections of desert and mountains - we had to ask Jeremy what made him want to take on this epic challenge?!
What made you want to do the Mongol Rally?
I've had motorbikes from the age of ten and always wanted to do a long adventure on one. It was Rory's suggestion while at Glastonbury Festival last summer that we take on the Mongol Rally. It seemed like a good idea at the time and we persuaded three others to join us. Rory and I will be riding 250cc 1993 Yamaha dirt bikes and our three team mates opted for the slightly more sensible option of travelling in a car.
Can you describe what the challenge will entail?
Each year the Mongol Ralliers set off in their hundreds (around 700 people), in small ill-equipped vehicles and each team raises as much money for their chosen charity as possible. Our chosen route takes us through 18 countries, over five mountain ranges and through three deserts. We'll have no support and will be camping for the majority of the trip. It will mean long days of riding in heat that will be unbearable at times. We'll experience fantastic scenery and deserted landscapes. The roads will be rough and often non-existent, so we expect to be rattled to insanity and no doubt will have multiple mechanical issues.
When does the rally start and how long do you expect it to take?
We set off from Goodwood near Brighton on 16 July and are expecting to arrive in Mongolia seven weeks later, all going well.
What training are you doing in preparation?
I've been doing lots of cycling to get fit and have taken the motorbike off road a few times around Totnes' green lanes. I'll give the bike a service before setting off too.
What are you most looking forward to about the challenge?
Travelling along the Black Sea through Turkey, visiting the ancient hill towns in Iran, riding the historic Pamir Highway in Tajikistan - the only continuous route through the challenging terrain of the Pamir Mountains and meeting the nomadic people on Mongolia's plains. By the end I'll be most looking forward to getting off the bike and giving my backside a rest!
What are you most nervous about?
I'm most nervous about having major mechanical issues in the middle of the desert with no help for hundreds of miles. The worrying part is that this is quite a likely scenario!
Why have you chosen to raise funds for Rowcroft?
In 2013, my Mother was in the care of Rowcroft for a few weeks where she received exceptional care, giving her the strength to return home where she later died with her family around her. I'm extremely thankful for the care and compassion my Mum received from Rowcroft and I truly believe the work they do is vital for so many families like mine.
If Jeremy's trip has inspired you to take on your own challenge for Rowcroft, find out more about doing so by visiting www.rowcrofthospice.org.uk/challenges or emailing Community Fundraising Manager, Hayley, at email@example.com.
You can also support Jeremy and his team mates with their fundraising efforts by visiting their Virgin Money Giving page.