Robert set for desert trek

Robert is pictured in hiking kit during a 26-mile training walk on the Isle of Wight as he prepares to take part in the Gobi Desert Challenge next month.

Robert is pictured in hiking kit during a 26-mile training walk on the Isle of Wight as he prepares to take part in the Gobi Desert Challenge next month.

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A care worker from Kirriemuir is preparing for a challenge of a lifetime when he will trek across the Gobi desert in searing temperatures to raise funds for two Scottish charities.

Robert Brown (55), who works with Turnpoint Scotland in Dundee looking after people with learning difficulties and challenging behaviour, is trying to fit in a gruelling training schedule between his shifts and family life with his wife Tracy, their five children and three grand-children.

Finding a break in the weather seems to be his biggest challenge so he has taken to training for four hours at a time at the gym in Kirriemuir to prepare himself for the Gobi Desert Challenge which begins when he flies out to Mongolia on September 4.

Robert (pictured right during a 26-mile training walk on the Isle of Wight) learned of the challenge by chance when he was recuperating from having his appendix removed last year; he read an article in the paper about an old Army pal of his who had been climbing mountains in Russia for a charity. This involved Willie Henderson of Glasgow Rangers and Jock McInness from Fife - who organises the Gobi Desert Challenge trek in aid of the Davie Cooper Centre in Clydebank which, when completed, will be a family centre for children and young adults with special needs, in tribute to the Rangers player, and Motor Neurone Disease Scotland out of support to the Celtic legend Jimmy Johnstone who died of the condition.

Robert said: “They were looking for volunteers to take part in the Gobi challenge. It is one of these things that if you were to sit and question it and worry about it, you wouldn’t do it!”

Robert will make up part of the 16-strong team known as Gobi United who will put on their hiking boots and sports kilts to walk for seven days, the last three over the desert covering up to 37 kms a day in temperatures which could reach up to 40 degrees.

A keen walker, Robert has in the past completed a charity trek over the hills in Hong Kong covering 100 kms when he was in the Army.

He said; “I’ve been out of the Army for 15 years and used to do a lot of running, but the temperatures in Mongolia will be completely different to the temperatures here for training. I have been trying to get out training but it has been difficult as it is always raining!

“The first couple of days will be over not too bad terrain, a bit of hills and grass plains, but the last three are over the sand dunes.

“Someone asked why they finished the trek in the dunes and they were told that, if they started there, no-one would finish it! We are also taking part in a football match with the locals on our first day there but I think they think it is the Scottish team which is going out!”

Robert, who has paid the £2,000 cost himself, is hoping to raise £1,000 which will go direct to the two charities. Although Gobi United are not directly linked to any football club Robert, a Celtic supporter, said the fund-raising efforts have united supporters in the Rangers, Celtic and Motherwell camps with a collection at Ibrox a week past Saturday raising over £2,000. Anyone wishing to support Robert’s efforts can visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RobertBrown6