Making a difference

Hat's off! Four girls try on the hats which were safely delivered to Mongolia by Eleanor and Martin Gledhill.
Hat's off! Four girls try on the hats which were safely delivered to Mongolia by Eleanor and Martin Gledhill.

DONATIONS of warm clothing to help children in Mongolia survive sub zero temperatures in winter have been safely delivered by Forfar couple Martin and Eleanor Gledhill.

The pair have recently returned from another visit to Ulan Bator where they met up with staff from the Christina Noble Foundation, which works with street children in the Mongolian capital.

Eleanor has tirelessly raised funds for the charity since seeing first hand the harsh living conditions in which the children have to endure during the freezing winter months after she and Martin completed the Mongol Rally in 2007.

Whilst in the capital they were moved by the conditions they found; the city heats its sewers where communities of children and desperate adults shelter during the winter. The foundation rescues the children and young people and gives them hope for the future.

Earlier this year Eleanor made an appeal for items of warm clothing for children aged between three to five, and in July she and Martin set off in a mini-bus full to overflowing with clothes and boots which they personally delivered. They also donated the mini-bus to the foundation.

Safely back home in Forfar last week, Eleanor told the “Dispatch” she and Martin were overwhelmed with the level of support they received from locals who donated items ranging from knitted hats and socks to winter jackets, boots and jumpers. They were so overwhelmed that they stopped off at Goodwood for the start of this year’s Mongol rally to off-load some of the items for other drivers to deliver when they arrived in Mongolia.

Eleanor said: “We picked up more stuff in Birmingham and went to the Mongol rally send-off party where we had to distribute some of the stuff we were carrying as there wasn’t room for the guy who was joining us in France to get on the bus!

“The response we got was fantastic and we say a huge thank-you to everyone who supported us and donated items. As well as the clothes and the mini-bus we also took spare parts for an ambulance which had broken down and a generator because there is often power cuts. Because the water is pumped, if the power goes off the kids have no water so we took a generator with us. We also took sewing machines as they give some of the unmarried mums vocational training. If they can sew they can earn a living.”

Unlike the other drivers taking part in the Mongol Rally – who were mugged in Russia and rolled their cars – Eleanor reported their journey was fairly uneventful, with only one puncture to contend with.

Martin and Eleanor’s journey took them through France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kurdistan, back up through Kazakhstan, into Siberia and on to Mongolia, arriving one month later.

She continued: “The welcome we got from the foundation was fantastic. We went up to see the kids and give them the bus – which we called Gloria, as in “Intransit Gloria”! We got 74 school uniforms off e-bay from a school that had shut down. The first bag they opened was the school uniforms – they wouldn’t take them off - they were so proud.

“The kids are well looked after so they are happy kids, but having new things and woolly hats for the winter was such good fun.

“The manager was really impressed with our “Gloria”. We handed over the bus one day, and the next day they used it to take those on the Mongol rally up to see the work of the foundation.

“That evening they had it full of kids coming down to give a display of their musical prowess.

“To see this bus full of kids with their instruments was just brilliant. It was nice to see how well the place is being run.

“They have just arranged for 40 children with cleft palates to get free surgery from Irish surgeons who are visiting a teaching hospital – it’s all really good stuff.”