Posted by: Huw Thomas | March 10, 2012

And now… a book!

The cycling is over but I’ve got a new project in aid of ShelterBox – this one´s a novel!

As well as riding tandems, I’m also an author and my new book – The Vault – is being published in aid of ShelterBox.

The book is only available on Kindle at present with 50% of royalties going to help the charity’s work.

The Vault is a mystery about hidden secrets, childhood drama and murder… to read more visit Amazon – for the UK page click here, for Amazon.com click here.

For anyone interested, I’ve got a separate blog about my books and writing – click here.

And, if you do read the book and enjoy it, please don’t forget to post a review on Amazon! Thanks.

Posted by: Huw Thomas | February 10, 2012

Six months later…

It’s now a little over six months since we finished our epic ride in aid of ShelterBox – having clocked up a final total of 10,775 miles (17,240km) of cycling.

Our trusty tandem is now resting in a storage unit back in Cornwall while Carolyn and I have gone back to teaching English in Portugal.

But the money raised as a direct result of our journey is still having an impact. We estimate we raised just under £50,000 following the talks we gave and other events along the way.

Some of the those who gave to ShelterBox attributed their donations to us – Tandem 10,000 – and I’ve been looking to see where they went.

Boxes funded in full or part with donations we helped inspire include:

  • 9 boxes sent to Columbia after huge flooding that devastated the country in December 2010
  • 2 boxes sent to Brazil after floods and mudslides in January 2011
  • 2 boxes sent to Madagascar following Cyclone Bingiza in February 2011
  • 3 boxes sent to Japan after the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011
  • 1 box sent to Ethiopia in response to the East African drought in July 2011
  • 2 boxes sent to The Phillippines following flooding caused by Tropical Storm Juaning in August 2011

Another 18 ShelterBoxes also funded with the help of donations made in our name are still to be deployed – or more likely they’ve gone to one of many destinations where ShelterBox has been working but the HQ team haven’t managed to update the records yet!

Other boxes will be under the names of those Rotary Clubs, schools, scout groups and individuals who also made donations.

Hopefully, our efforts also managed to spread the word about ShelterBox to many others who hadn’t heard of the charity previously.

For us, the experience is starting to fade a little into memory. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that it was all real. We rode some long miles across some beautiful landscapes. Sometimes the days were tough but it was always worthwhile – partly because we believed in our cause but also because of all the wonderful people we met and who supported us on our way.

A year ago today we were arriving in Wellington, about to start the second half of our journey through New Zealand. The big Christchurch earthquake was still to happen, as was the Japanese tsunami. And we still had a long way to pedal across NZ’s North Island, not to mention Queensland and New South Wales in Australia, and a seven countries in Europe…

The big question now is, can we do it again, please?!

Posted by: Huw Thomas | August 21, 2011

What now?

Well, Orion and Bob (that’s our tandem and trailer) have gone away for the time being – into the storage unit that contains most of our worldly goods.

The first two weeks after completing our journey were a kind of weaning-off period. We took bike and box on a cycle-camping trip around West Cornwall. (Didn’t have a lot of options as our car is still off the road and waiting to be reclaimed from a friend’s garage in Hampshire).

Cornish sunshine on The Lizard.

The weather wasn’t great every day but it did remind us what a beautiful place Cornwall is and give us an opportunity to spend a bit of quiet time together without having to talk about ShelterBox everyday!

Since then, we’ve had a week seeing our families – and more time to relax.

‘What’s next’, lots of people have asked? Well, not sure about a book – we’ll have to see. Another trip? One day, almost definitely. In the meantime, though, we need to earn some money.

So, we’re going to go back to Portugal for another year of teaching English. We set off next month and will start work in October at International House Torres Vedras.

We haven’t got our accommodation sorted yet but we’ll make sure we have at least one spare bedroom and we’ll be there until the end of June next year… Hopefully, we’ll be able to repay some of the wonderful hospitality and support we’ve had over the past year.

So, once again, a huge thank you to everyone who’s helped in any way – whether providing us with a meal, a bed, raising money for ShelterBox or just cheering us on. It all helped. Keep in touch.

Posted by: Huw Thomas | July 31, 2011

Home!

We’ve done it! We cycled into ShelterBox HQ in Helston at just after 11.30 this morning – with 10,775 miles (17,240km) on the clock.

The box arrives home!

Arrived to a big cheer, a Welcome Home banner - and champagne. So, are we there yet? Most definitely, yes!

We might even have a day off cycling tomorrow to celebrate… ;)

Posted by: Huw Thomas | July 27, 2011

The celebrations begin

We finally got our glass of champagne on Friday – celebrating us passing 10,000 miles and my sister Sian graduating as a doctor of medicine. (Hopefully there might be another glass on hand when we get to Helston on Sunday.)

Bubbly... at last. Celebrating with Sian and Alfonso.

We stopped for a couple of nights with Sian and her fiancee Alfonso. (Oh drat, we’ll have to go back and drink MORE champagne when they get married in September!)

After that came a couple of beautiful days riding across Wiltshire and Somerset to get to Taunton on Monday – where we gave our final Rotary Club presentation to the Taunton Vale club. We think that’s now about 120 clubs we’ve spoken to about ShelterBox.

Yesterday we arrived in Braunton, North Devon, where Carolyn grew up. She’s enjoyed meeting up with old school friends and a day on the beach while I’ve very happily sat around reading a book and not cycling. We’re due to cross the border into Cornwall on Friday – stopping near Bodmin on Friday night and camping at St Agnes on Saturday night. Presingoll Farm if anyone wants to come and say hello.

Not quite sure how we’re going to feel when we get to ShelterBox HQ in Helston on Sunday – proud but also quite sad.

Posted by: Huw Thomas | July 22, 2011

Home straight

We’re back on English soil – having crossed the Severn Bridge yesterday. Our mileage stands at 10,512 and we’re now more or less on the home straight – just another 300 miles or so to ShelterBox HQ.

Moody skies over Three Cliffs Bay on The Gower

After a fairly hectic few days in West Wales last week, we were ready for a leisurely break on the Gower with our friend Cathy. Some beautiful walks between the rain and a bit of culture – multilingual games of Scrabble and going to the final Harry Potter film!

Wednesday’s ride to Cardiff was a tough one. Nearly 59 miles – ending with one right so-and-so of a hill out of Caerphilly. Not what you need at the end of a long day.

L: Flying the flag at Caerphilly Castle. R: Crossing the River Severn.

It was worth it though. We ended the day by giving a talk to members of five of Cardiff’s Rotary Clubs. An opportunity to tell our story and remind them why ShelterBox is such a great project. (Not that we’re biased.)

We’ve got a couple of nights with my sister Sian – who graduated yesterday as a doctor of medicine… having become a grandma earlier this year! We’ve got our final presentation to do in Taunton on Monday night then we’re off to Braunton in North Devon, where Carolyn grew up.

Posted by: Huw Thomas | July 17, 2011

Boxes in action

Two weeks. That’s all that’s left until we reach ShelterBox HQ and the end of our journey. So… apart from wearing out a few tyres and eating a few kilos of chocolate, what’s it all been about?

Well, so far, we’ve ridden a grand total of 10,384 miles (16,711 km). More importantly, we’ve also given nearly 170 talks on ShelterBox to Rotary Clubs, schools, scout groups and other organisations. Plus about 80 media interviews.

L: Boxes being delivered in Colombia. M: Tents set up in Brazil. R: Help arriving in Japan.

The result of that? Donations of around £47,000 in additional funds for the charity – enough to pay for around 76 additional ShelterBoxes. And this is where boxes paid for with some of that money have gone (click on the country names for more info):

Mexico - November 2010 - in response to landslides & flooding

Brazil - January 2011 - flooding & landslides

Madagascar - March 2011 - floods caused by cyclone

Japan - March 2011 - tsunami & earthquake

Columbia - May 2011 - flooding

Truth is, we’ll never know exactly how much money we’ve helped generate for ShelterBox in countries we’ve visited over the last year. It may be more. We’ve given out thousands of publicity leaflets and cards along our journey. Some of those may result in additional support for the charity… this year or next.

What we do know, though, is that every mile was worth it. Not just because we’ve had a wonderful adventure – which we have. But also because we know that some fresh hope – in the form of a very special green box – has been delivered to at least 76 families around the world who had lost everything.

If you’re reading this, you may already know about ShelterBox. The reason I’m repeating it? Because the work never ends. In two weeks time, we’ll get to Helston and the end of our journey. But the work for ShelterBox will continue.

At the moment, boxes are on their way to South Sudan and a team going to Ethiopia – all part of the response to the crisis going on in East Africa where drought has forced tens of thousands to flee their homes. So, when our ride is over, please don’t forget ShelterBox!

Posted by: Huw Thomas | July 14, 2011

Land of my father’s…

So, now we’re in Wales – the land of my fathers. Or, to be more precise, we’re at Saundersfoot in Pembrokeshire, land of my father’s mother’s mother!

Summer sunshine on the quay at Saundersfoot

And we’ve finally found summer (just don’t mention the forecast for tomorrow’s ride to Llanelli).

We were glad to make it to Wales. One of my pedals was steadily disintegrating and in danger of seizing up any moment. However, we hadn’t been able to replace it because no-one could get it off the crank.

Two previous bike shops had tried and failed to remove the pedal and we were worried we’d need to replace the crank too. Luckily, though, Peter Walker from Pembrokeshire Bikes rose to the challenge and eventually did the deed - after bringing out the blow torch, scaffolding pipe, stilson wrench, grinder etc!

Finally, new pedals!

We arrived in Wales on Wednesday lunchtime after a very welcome bit of ‘RnR’ in Wexford. A huge thank you to the wonderful Padraig and Claire for being such great hosts and letting us laze away a couple of days in your home.

L: Carolyn doing her bit to support the Irish economy. R: A taste of 'trad' in Wexford.

We’ve an early start tomorrow so we can get to Llanelli for another talk – but then a long weekend on The Gower with an old friend.

Posted by: Huw Thomas | July 10, 2011

Down south

How can it be Sunday again? That means another week’s gone – and only three more left until the finish line in Helston!

We’ve had a busy time since crossing the border into the Irish Republic. Friday was supposed to be our day off in Dublin but rather than resting our legs we found ourselves riding around Phoenix Park with about 70 international students from the IH Dublin language school.

Getting ready to set off around Phoenix Park with the IH Dublin students

The past week as been a mixed experience. Carolyn’s been suffering from a dodgy stomach and the weather has been a bit wet at times.

On the plus side, we’ve raised around 1,200 Euros for ShelterBox and seen some beautiful scenery – particularly on the coast between Dublin and Wicklow. We’ve also had some great hospitality thanks to Irish Rotarians.

We’re now in Wexford, our last stop in Ireland before the ferry back to Wales. We’ve got a couple more nights here first though – hopefully a chance for one more pint of the black stuff…

One Dublin landmark that few tourists miss!

Posted by: Huw Thomas | July 5, 2011

10,079 miles… and still pedalling!

We’ve done it. With four weeks of our journey still to go, we’ve now ridden 10,000 miles for ShelterBox.

Cycle computer says YES!

The big moment came on Sunday afternoon as we cycled from Strangford to Downpatrick in Northern Ireland. The sun shone and it was a glorious moment for two very excited tandem riders – plus Orion and Bob of course…

Today (Tuesday), we arrived in Dundalk in the Irish Republic with the total now at 10,079 miles on the clock. So, as we pedal on towards Dublin, Cardiff and Cornwall, only one question remains… ARE WE THERE YET?!

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