Three complete epic tuk-tuk trip for charity

IPSWICH: Three men and their trusty tuk-tuk have conquered a charity challenge travelling thousands of miles through India.

The father-and-sons trio completed The Rickshaw Run, driving the length of the country, across inhospitable terrain, with only a 150cc engine to power them.

They survived a dramatic bedroom fire on their first night, pushed their tuk-tuk “Bessie” up hills and took their place in the Indian roads hierarchy behind almost everything, including cattle.

Covering 3,150km in eight days, the Ipswich team, Dark side of the Naan, came second in the race from the Keralan town of Cochin in the south, to deep in the Himalayan hills and the town of Gantok, Sikkim, just four hours behind the winners and four days ahead of third place.

Competing against 71 other teams, Tony Welton, 52 and his two sons, Ollie Welton, 22 and 27-year-old Matt Green crossed the line, 11 places ahead of a Norwich team, raising �1,000 for the designated Indian charities, Frank Water Projects (which funds clean water projects in developing countries) and Mercy Corps (which help countries in the aftermath of disasters).

The trio also raised around �1,200 for Coping with Breast Cancer. Ollie, who works in IT for the BBC, said the experience was “absolutely amazing,” with the scenery changing every few miles.

Battling through temperatures reaching 40C with a top speed of 55 mph, the trio were up at the crack of dawn driving until nightfall.

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He said: “Night time driving was fun, surrounded by lorries on a highway with little more than two candles strapped to the front for lights and the two passengers hanging out the sides with wind up torches.

“The bigger you were the more rights you had. I think we were pretty much below everything else on the road, including cattle, and we would have several near misses every day as vehicles overtook in both directions.

“People were so friendly.Families of five on motorbikes would drive alongside and shake our hands. We even had a Hindu priest who took both hands off his motorbike handlebars to greet us.

“For 99 per cent of the trip we were travelling in areas where we just didn’t see foreign tourists. People would lean in or come and watch and stare as we ate or filled up with petrol which was quite unnerving at times.”

Ollie added: “We’re really chuffed with the money we have raised. Thanks to everyone for their support.”