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Two continents, three friends and 18,000 miles - all for charity

Three friends raised £5,666 for Saint Francis Hospice when they fulfilled their schoolboy dream of driving 18,000 miles across Europe and Asia.  
Cameron Charlie and Jake with their faithful Nissan Micra (cropped)
Last summer, Jake Brooker, Charlie Watson and Cameron Hollis, aka 101 Damn-Nations, packed up their customised white Nissan Micra - complete with black spots, floppy ears and a red tongue - and set off from Gidea Park to take part in the Mongol Rally.      

Over the next six weeks the 23-year-old adventurists joined 300 other teams as they travelled through the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan before finally reaching Mongolia.

"We've been talking about doing this since we were in year nine, long before we had a driving licence, so it has been a long time coming," said Jake, a web publisher.     

"The sense of elation when we reached the finish line was incredible, we just had a party at the side of the road to celebrate," said Charlie, whose father Paul was cared for at the hospice before he died of prostate cancer in 2007.      

Charlie Cameron and Jake with SFH staff
Cameron, Charlie and Jake with their trusty Nissan Micra, before it became a dalmation

"For me the whole experience has been very humbling as it makes you realise how little you actually really need and it has also taught me not to worry so much about things."     

The Former All Saints Catholic School pupils knew their journey was never going to go smoothly with car was built for neither comfort, speed or driving along bumpy dirt track roads, but that was all part of the fun and challenge.     

And as the saying goes, life is a journey not a destination, and during their time on the road they learned about life, friendship and relied on the kindness of strangers on more than one occasion.

Charlie Cameron and Jake with SFH staff
The trio present their cheque of £5,666 to SFH staff

Cameron, a supervisor at the Rainham bus garage, said, "If everyone spent a bit of time in different countries attitudes would be very different.      

"People were so welcoming and there were so many times when if we did not have the help of local people we would have been in serious trouble." 

Their faithful motor has now become a treasured souvenir with the signatures and good luck messages of locals from the different countries they passed through.      

To find out more about their adventures and see photos visit their blog at 101damn-nations.com.