Matt, Alex and Ivan pictured with their hosts in Albania

We’ve arrived! Matt, Alex and Ivan dropping off the bus in Tirana – ©MattEdwards

When it comes to Red Cross Week, there is no shortage of people doing weird and wonderful events to raise money.

We’ve seen people donning fancy dress, baking cakes, doing sponsored walks, holding pet beauty competitions, dressing up like Lady Gaga… the list goes on!

But three friends deserve special mention for covering more than 2,000 miles in their fundraising adventure.

Matt Edwards, Alex Allen and Ivan Rogan have driven a Ford Tourneo, purchased with their own money, from Manchester to the Albanian capital Tirana.

There they donated the eight-seater minibus, affectionately nicknamed Marvin, to a local rock climbing centre that encourages youngsters to take part in the sport.  

©MattEdwards

©MattEdwards

If that altruistic gesture wasn’t enough, the journey was also sponsored with money raised going to the British Red Cross.

The money is still being counted and they are hoping to top £1,500 (visit their JustGiving page).

Matt, 35, said: “It’s always good to do something for others. I know that sounds a bit clichéd, but we can be proud of raising a fair bit of money as well as donating the bus and some climbing equipment.

“Obviously we had a good time along the way, a sort of boys-only adventure, that was the selfish part! It’s not something you can do very often.

“We met a lot of really great people, which puts your faith back in human nature. Everyone was incredibly helpful and friendly.” 

©MattEdwards

©MattEdwards

The boys set out from Manchester on 12 April and arrived in the Albanian capital 10 days later.

“The biggest challenge was getting up each morning not knowing what was going to happen,” said Matt.

“It was a bit tricky getting across some of the borders and trying to keep the vehicle going. And it was a bit of a struggle getting a map to navigate certain places such as southern Montenegro.”

But apart from a few teething problems with the vehicle’s battery, the journey wasn’t too problematic with the friends taking half-day stints behind the wheel.

Beyond Italy, they passed through Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro before finally arriving in Albania.

“We passed through some stunning scenery, we hadn’t been to the Balkans before,” continued Matt.

“When you go into Bosnia and Herzegovina, it gets really quite wild and there was constant rain, but we’re used to that being from Manchester!”