The details of the night are long forgotten but the question started the wheels in motion and blossomed into an ambitious world-record attempt to raise money and awareness for the British Red Cross. I talked to Johno, one of the guys behind this adventurous fundraiser, to find out more.
What is It’s on the Meter?
It’s on the Meter is an attempt to set a new world record by driving a vintage London black cab 30,000 miles from London to Sydney. Three friends – Paul, Leigh and I – are due to depart from England in January 2011 and drive the taxi, christened Hard Hearted Hannah, through Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, India, China, South-East Asia and Australia where we hope to arrive around August 2011.
How did you come up with the project?
Paul came up with the initial idea when we were sitting in a taxi one night but at first Leigh and I didn’t really take the idea seriously. However, we were soon brought on board and now, after over two years of planning, we’ve sourced the taxi, secured sponsors, planned and replanned the route and are raring to get going.
How are you promoting it?
We have a website that details the whole expedition and route and includes our blog. We are also using Facebook and Twitter and will be making a film of the journey and posting regular video snippets online. We’ve already been interviewed by local radio and as we approach the departure date we will be looking at using radio, TV, newspapers and the internet as much as possible.
What fundraising are you doing?
We are also looking at picking up fares along the way and working on a system that will let people take a ‘virtual ride’ in the taxi and sponsor a section of the route online.
We are also working with a local college to raise money for the trip and are keen to get youth groups interested in the idea and show them that adventure travel is something that anyone can do. Finally, we have a Just Giving page that allows people to donate directly to the British Red Cross on behalf of our team. We are keen to make it clear that none of the £20,000 target will be used for our costs and all of it will be going to charity.
What part are you looking forward to most?
As you’d imagine with such a varied route we’ve each got our own sections we’re looking forward to. Throughout the trip we are planning on staying with people using the Couchsurfing website. This is an online community that allows you to contact local people and arrange to stay with them and see their country with a more local perspective. I couchsurfed with a great family in Finland in 2009 and am looking forward to saying hello again and having some more traditional Finnish saunas.
Have you done anything like it before?
All of us are quite well travelled and Leigh and Paul have previously set up a community project in Africa that continues to run successfully and both were heavily involved in charity fundraising at university. In addition I previously drove to Kazakhstan in a 20 year-old car to raise money for charity.
Why did you choose the British Red Cross?
We think that the British Red Cross does really high-quality work and helps people in genuine need both in the UK and all around the world and we have been supporting the charity individually for a number of years. We hope to be able to link our route to some British Red Cross projects along the way and report the great work in our blog to raise further awareness.
And finally, do you have any other messages for our readers?
Thank you for reading! Please follow us on Twitter or join our group on Facebook and follow our progress. Things have been a little quiet recently due to our university final exams but now that departure is approaching and things are ramping up things will get more exiting!