COUNTY NEWS: Family drives through 23 countries for '˜fantastic' charity

Meet the Darnley family from Sussex, who call themselves '˜slightly mad' and '˜always up for a challenge'.

Wednesday, 23rd August 2017, 12:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:23 pm
Dad Stephen Darnley, 56, with his two daughters, Anna, 24, and Laura, 20

They have driven to Mongolia, covering 23 countries in six weeks, to raise cash for Doctors Without Borders (MSF), who help people worldwide where the need is greatest.

A casual dinner chat led the family, who live in Haywards Heath, to take on the ‘epic adventure’ with a goal to raise £25,000, which they say can fund a doctor in the field for a year.

Anna, 24, a digital strategy consultant for Accenture in London, came up with idea before asking her family if they wanted to join her.

The trio returned last Wednesday (August 16)

Much to her surprise, dad Stephen and sister Laura were quick to sign up.

She said: “I wanted to do the trip with two mates from London, but they chickened out and said I was bonkers!

“What started as a casual ‘wouldn’t that be cool’ comment at the dinner table became an epic adventure to raise money for the worthiest of worthy causes.

“It was in the midst of the Syrian crisis that we decided to undertake our journey. We were fascinated and inspired by the work MSF was doing.

Sisters Anna and Laura

“In line with our ambitious goal of travelling 25,000 kilometres through 25 countries, we thought it would be fitting to set ourselves the task of fundraising £25,000, the amount needed to put a doctor in the field for a year.

“Our goal is simple – to raise as much as we can for this fantastic charity.”

The trio headed off on July 21, and returned last Wednesday (August 16).

They travelled almost 25,000 kilometres and saw Europe, Turkey and Russia in a £500 Daihatsu Terios 4x4, bought off Ebay.

Sisters Laura (left) and Anna on the trip

Stephen, 56, a group treasurer for IATA based in Geneva, said: “It worked out really well, we had an amazing time. We have raised just under £6,000, but we plan to raise our target amount.”

Laura, 20, who is studying political economy at Kings College in London, said one of the biggest challenges of the trip was driving through Mongolia. “The tarmac on the road just stopped and the next minute we were driving through a desert,” she said.

“Our sat navs were saying different things, we had to go old school and get the compass out!

“I was not a confident driver before I went, driving in Russia was particularly terrifying, but I feel confident now!”

Dad Stephen Darnley, 56, on the trip

Anna said she almost hit breaking point one night due to being poorly.

She said: “We stopped at 4am to get out of the car and I looked up at the sky – I had never seen a sky like that before – it was mindblowing.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to carry on at the point but it was this moment that I realised it wasn’t so bad.”

To donate to the family visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/one-steppe-beyond.

Follow their blog: www.annadarnley.com/one-steppe-beyond and Instagram account: @one.steppe.beyond.

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