Speak Russian? Then your help is needed for Huntingdon rally team

A TEAM of charity rally drivers – known as the League of Mentalmen – are appealing for any Kazakh, Mongolian and Russian speakers to get in contact to help them finish a 10,000-mile rally... in an old ambulance.

Restaurant-owner Karn Richmond and brothers, Ed and Tom Harrison, are one of around 350 teams taking part in this year’s Mongol Rally, organised by a group known as The Adventurists.

Mr Richmond, 41, who owns Pop Bellies, in Huntingdon High Street, and his two mates, Ed, 33, of Ferndown Drive, Godmanchester, and his brother, Tom, 27, of Hildersham, plan to complete the gruelling rally in an ambulance. Setting out in July, the friends will travel over two deserts, and through 11 countries and 14 time zones – all in just 28 days to finish in Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia.

The official launch takes place at Goodwood race track on July 14, but there is no official route. The journey – made famous by Actor Ewan McGregor and his mate Charley Boorman in their book, Long Way Round, can be done in eight weeks, but with only a month to spare, the Mentalmen have chosen the short route – from England, onto France, Belgium, and Germany, before heading to the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Kazakhstan, back into Russia, before finishing in Mongolia. And no GPS navigation systems are allowed.

The Mentalmen want to raise a minimum of �1,000 for two charities. One, the Rally’s official 2012 charity the Lotus Children’s Centre Charitable Trust in Ulaanbaatar and the other the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Karn lost his dad to cancer and his mum is still recovering from breast cancer, and Tom lost a friend at a very young age to cancer.

The trio are facing some tough challenges ahead, including grappling with border guards. Past teams have reported aggressive border control guards who demanded bribes.

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“I had a Russian girl come in [to Pop Bellies] to eat one day,” said Karn, “and she was talking about some of the cultural differences. In some remote parts of Russia they have no concept of travelling and holidays. They would be very suspicious of why you were there.

“Also, Russian people, we’ve learnt, need to hear the very basics like hello and thank you, otherwise the older generation find it quite insulting.”

Hence, the friends need a few language pointers before heading off. So if you teach, or speak Kazakh, Mongolian or Russian, then e-mail mentalmen@hotmail.co.uk or call Karn on 07794817642.

INFORMATION: Donations can be made direct to the Lotus Children’s Centre Charitable Trust and the Teenage Cancer Trust via the website. Anyone wishing to donate to the “gift list” can visit Pop Bellies.