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Pensioners from Egerton near Ashford take on one of the toughest motoring challenges in the world

By Charlie Harman

Two retirees are taking on one of the toughest motoring challenges in the world - driving 10,000 miles without support or a back-up car.

Chris Gouldstone and Jonathan Harmer, from Egerton, will pilot a 20-year-old Volkswagen Polo from the Czech Republic to Ulan-Ude in Siberia as part of the Mongol Rally.

The annual event sees teams take old bangers from the start point in Junktown near Prague to the finish in Russia - with no set route in between.

Chris and Jonathan are excited for the journey ahead
Chris and Jonathan are excited for the journey ahead

There are no support teams and very little guidance, except it is not a race due to legal speed limits and teams should adventure as much as possible on extremely rugged roads.

Mr Gouldstone, 68, said: “Jonathan’s partner, who was originally meant to go with him, suddenly turned around and said she couldn’t do it.

“We both live in Egerton and I bumped into him one day.

“We got talking, one thing led to another, and I basically signed myself up on the spot.

“Jon’s 70 and I’m 68 - we’re not the typical participants as there are many youngsters fresh out of university.” and they come from all over the world.”

The pair have already left Egerton for the Czech Republic.

The pair will be driving for two months in this car to raise money for charity
The pair will be driving for two months in this car to raise money for charity

When the rally begins from Junktown, the duo’s route will take them through Istanbul, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and along the Afghan and Chinese borders.

Money is being raised by the pair in support of Rare Dementia Support, which targets the condition that led to Mr Harmer’s late wife Lynette’s death in 2017.

So far they have collected more than £3,000 and are already well on the way to their £10,000 target.

The pair - called the Adventure to Prevent Dementia team - hope to finish their journey in September.

Chris Gouldstone and Jonathan Harmer will be driving for two months
Chris Gouldstone and Jonathan Harmer will be driving for two months

Rocking horse makers Stevenson Brothers of Bethersden have supplied a rocking unicorn which is sitting on the VW’s roof to ensure the pair get noticed.

“We’re two old farts and we don’t want to appear stuffy, so we thought it’d be good to have the unicorn,” Mr Gouldstone added.

“We’re very excited and also a little nervous, we have done a lot of preparation but it’s so easy to overlook or forget some important detail.

“I think our toughest challenge is going to be living together in such a small space with no creature comforts for a couple of months.”

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/adventuretopreventdementia

Read more: All the latest news from Ashford

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