British couple on a mission to raise funds

Alan and Pat Braithwaite from Suffolk in the UK, who are on a 5,600 km Trans-India Challenge, are all smiles during a stopover in the city on Friday. The couple are on a mission to raise funds for the ‘circular economy’ project of the India-based NGO Goonj.

The septuagenarian couple, who embarked on their road trip in their black and yellow Morgan 3-wheeler from Mumbai on February 1, has already covered 1,200 km passing through Pune, Sholapur, Hyderabad, Khammam and Rajamahendravaram before reaching Visakhapatnam. The team is accompanied by a film crew, which is making a full-length feature documentary to be released later this year.

“This is my third trip to India. I was fascinated by the good work being done by Goonj in supporting the rural communities in India through their ‘circular economy’ projects, which collects reusable goods discarded in cities for the benefit of the rural poor. It was my idea to do the Trans-India challenge and raise £200,000 (₹1.8 crore) to support the activities of Goonj and see smiles on the faces of the underprivileged rural masses,” Mr. Alan said.

“The cute new Morgan 3-wheeler is based on the original design of the Morgan, which was rolled out over a century ago in Britain. Every Morgan 3-wheeler is unique and all the components are hand-built and unique. I had done up to 140 km/hr. It costs £40,000 (around ₹36 lakh),” he said.

Apart from raising funds for the charity, Mr. Alan loves coming to India to connect with his roots. His mother was born in Belgaum (Karnataka) and his grandmother was born in Mysore. “On our last trip to India, we located the house in which my mother had lived. We drive for around 300 km a day and we avoid travelling at night. The traffic is insane but once you figure out it is great. Indian drivers are superb,” he said.

On the challenges faced during the trip so far, the couple says: “The roads were good overall. But, the stretch from Khammam to Rajamahendravaram was full of potholes and car exhaust suffered damaged. It was shocking for us to see two-wheeler riders coming close to our car and taking selfies even while riding their bike.”

“We have covered 1,200 km and raised ₹48.93 lakh, so far,” he said.

Peter Brill, team coordinator, said that individuals and organisations wishing to support the challenge can log on to and make their contributions.

David Campbell, documentary maker, was present.

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