Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Thank you to our main sponsor - Suzuki GB

It’s taken over 100 years for Suzuki to become one of the world’s leading car manufacturers. The Suzuki story has been one of commitment and continuous technical innovation. Their history shows a pioneering spirit, from which ground breaking technologies continue to emerge. The Suzuki brand has embraced creativity and enthusiasm and 50,000 people in 196 countries continue to surpass customers expectations. Having said all that, Suzuki as a company is one of the smallest of the modern Japanese success stories. Their support to The Ultimate Challenge however, has been anything but. Their involvement in the project has gone way beyond that of a typical sponsor.

The Jimny, chosen by the Ultimate Challenge, is one of the longer running vehicles in the Suzuki stable and has an extensive, loyal fan base. Les chose the Suzuki Jimny for three reasons. Firstly their robustness and reliability, he wanted to do the journey with standard vehicles that have only been prepared to protect the most vulnerable parts, so other than that they will be using the standard off the shelf Suzuki Jimnys. Secondly, they didn’t like the idea of doing the journey in big luxury 4x4’s with all mod con’s, basically a cushy journey. Thirdly, and probably the most important, if we sustain damage, break something, or it just stops, we will probably be able to fix it, with the help from the Suzuki worldwide dealer network that is!!

Suzuki as the main sponsor for the Ultimate Challenge have been outstanding in their support. Not only have they provided support for the vehicles, but they have lent weight in the crucial area of PR and the growing media interest is due mainly to Alun Parry and Jade Wells. And the support hasn't been limited Alun and Jade, it has extended all the way to the MD in the UK Mr Yoshinobu Abe as the photo shows. 

Beyond the UK, Les, in addition to his full itinerary, will be visiting major dealerships across Europe, Japan, Canada and North America where they are also joining the fund raising activities. In Bensheim they've raised 1000 Euros and will be presenting that to Les when he visits. We really can't thank them enough for the support and guidance they have provided to The Ultimate Challenge.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Alan Butler - Ultimate Challenge International Speaker

Alan Butler, Heaven Can Wait I'm Busy Trustee and crew member has been away on holiday for the last month. Part of his time away was spent in New Zealand visiting his son and daughter-in-law and their children. He had been there a few days when his granddaughter asked him about The Ultimate Challenge and why he was taking part. He explained what was happening and that it was all about raising money for children less fortunate than ourselves. She seemed content with the explanation and it was left at that. 

The next day his granddaughter him if he would come to the school in two days time to talk to the children and tell them all about The Ultimate Challenge. It is not the sort of thing Alan likes to do but to pacify his granddaughter he agreed and thought no more of it. Two days later he was working hard relaxing when his granddaughter came up to him and said, Grandad, you promised that you would come to school today to talk to the children. Anyway, he didn't think much about it as she dragged him to the school together with the rest of the family.  What the hell he thought, talk to them for half an hour, anything for a quiet life. 

He got to the school and was met by one of the teachers and made welcome.  He tried to explain that he was happy to talk to the children and asked what classroom he needed to go to. They gave him a strange look and guided him along a corridor to a door at the end and opened it for him to walk through.  

To his horror he had walked onto a stage and was facing 500 children all eager to hear all about the journey around the world. He nearly fainted from shock.  Before he knew it they that introduced him as Alan - Indiana - Butler, shoved a microphone into his hand and pushed him to the front of the stage. 

He stood there for what seemed an eternity wanting to speak but couldn't because his tongue was stuck to the roof of his mouth.  Eventually he freed his tongue and started talking and it is said that he gave a good presentation. 

Alan now thinks he is a professional speaker and every time he tells the story it gets expanded, we have all heard it many times. 

Note of caution ....... if you're proposing to see us off on the 31st DON'T ask Alan how he got on in New Zealand!!

Les Carvall

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Last personal blog from Les before he leaves the UK

Hello everybody, Maureen has been on to me about contributing to the blog, she is right of course, I haven’t contributed as much as I should. I'm not making excuses but I have been running around like a headless chicken for months now as we have a preparation team of one, that’s me. The guys help out where they can, but it seems like I have various parts of the project that I would call spinning plates on sticks and I'm running up and down a line of these plates on sticks giving each one a spin when they start to wobble, trust me when I say I have had some serious wobbles but no breakages.
It’s raining at the moment so I can’t work outside on the vehicles, my lovely wife VI has locked herself in the cupboard in case I got bit amorous so nothing was happening there. The only thing left is to bring you all up to date through the blog and keep Maureen happy at the same time.
We have been working on the project for best part of 2 years now and with the help from everybody out there and Maureen, who manages the Press and PR, my good friend Keith who looks after the web site and tells me what buttons to press and talks me through how to use the electrical equipment that we have for the journey, we're almost ready to leave. The guys taking part with me, Alan Butler, Glyn Maher, Roger Winkworth and Graham Higgins, make up the 5 guys now, including myself. It only seems like yesterday that I decided to take on this mammoth challenge, yet here we are. We have 15 days to go before we start our journey. It’s a credit to everyone.
I mentioned about the series of wobbly plates, we had two training days 12th & 13th February, it was really good we covered most things first aid, equipment familiarisation, putting up the tents for when we are camping, loading of the vehicles, maps and route, and so on. It was on the second day that one of the guys who had joined us recently, suddenly informed us that he could no longer take part. When someone decides to pull out of the project it leaves a hole in the route and itinerary where he was taking part, and when you are short of people in the first place it’s difficult to reshuffle everything to make it work. I guess when you are putting a project of this size and diversity together, and bearing in mind those taking part who are in their 70’s it's more than likely that not everybody will be there at the start on 31st March. But are we down hearted, no we are not.
Let’s push to one side the things that go wrong and let’s smile! And look at what’s gone right. The vehicles are ready and fully equipped, at the moment the crew is ready, we have most of the paperwork in place, I have had more inoculations than I care to mention and we have in place an interesting itinerary as we travel through Europe. So IF NOTHING UNFORSEEN HAPPENS we will be ready to go on the 31st March, departing from the NOVOTEL West Quay Road Southampton at 11.00 am. If you are coming to see us off to make sure we go, be there by 10.00, there is a reception.
Me, I'm a bit battle scarred, but still smiling and ready to go. Heaven knows what lies ahead of us but I will promise to keep you posted as to how we progress. Keith and Maureen have organised the web site so you can see where we are and there will be updates on Twitter, Facebook and the blog, so keep checking in as we travel around the world.
I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on the 31st.