Originally Cornwall 2 Cape Horn
Welcome to what has unexpectedly become an ongoing expedition to drive around the world. The initial plan as many of you may know was to drive from England to Argentina in around 18months. Humm now that seems like a fairly reasonable timeframe wouldn’t you think.
Well this is what happened….
As I was making a fair amount of progress on a daily basis one thing became very apparent to me; I was neither really seeing thing properly nor was I meeting anyone.
With one deep breath I slammed on the brakes tore up the schedule on the whole expedition. After all what is the rush, I’m on my own I’m not in any kind of race and no one is going to loose out by me slowing things down. In fact the person who would have lost if I kept going at the speed I was would have been me. Why wouldn’t I stop to smell the flowers, meet people and to really take a breath in what is going on around me?
The trip has tuned from a trip of a life time to a lifelong trip. One thing though that has made this experience so unbelievably amazing…… Is people! People are wonderful and for that alone I wouldn’t change a thing because if it wasn’t for each and every person I have met lets face it this trip would be shit! Sorry to say it like it is but it’s just the way I feel, in my eyes people are the life and soul of my adventures. It’s because of people my little 18 month journey has turned in to a 4 year endeavour that has no sign of ending!
When on an expedition for this amount of time covering such a huge distance it quickly becomes life. Whether its life at home or on the road; life in general is full of ups and downs and it is no different for me. It’s all fine and dandy while the sun is shining, the roads are smooth (or not when I’m on some fun filled back roads) and life is going to plan and running smoothly. But let’s face it every now and then when those storm clouds hit and everything turns to shit and sometimes have a run of bad luck, I do think about jacking the whole thing. This is where my fantastic family and friends come in, all of whom support me in everything and I really wouldn’t be here without them. They tell me it is going to be alright and then if that doesn’t work I get told to suck it up and carry on. That generally works as they explain from their view what I’ve been through over the last years.
After all that I suppose I should tell you all a little about myself and one of the many reasons why I decided to take that step out my door, get in my Defender, turn the key and drive off the driveway without looking back all those years ago.
My name is Ben Davenport. I live or rather used to in the South West of England in Cornwall. In 2011 I embarked on round 2 of a solo expedition in my Land Rover Defender, attempting to drive from London to Cape Horn in South America. My route was to take me through Scandinavia via Nordkapp (North Cape), across Europe, Russia, The Central Asian “Stans”, Mongolia, across the Pacific to Alaska and then down through Canada, The United States, Central America and South America to Tierra del Fuego.
While a fair few people have done such expeditions, what makes my solo trip that bit more challenging is that I'm afflicted by Noonan’s Syndrome. .. Don’t worry! You aren’t the only one not to have heard of it!!
Noonan Syndrome is a relatively common autosomal dominant congenital disorder considered to be a type of that affects both males and females equally. The principal features include congenital heart defect, short stature dwarfism (yes I am short or hobbit sized as my friends tell me), learning problems, pectus excavatum, impaired blood clotting and a characteristic configuration of facial features. The syndrome is named after Dr. Jacqueline Noonan.
It is believed that between approximately 1 in 1,000 and 1 in 2,500 children worldwide are born with NS. It is one of the most common genetic syndromes associated with congenital heart disease, similar in frequency to Down syndrome. However, the range and severity of features can vary greatly in patients with NS.
Like many individuals diagnosed with the condition, I had a troubled childhood from not only the endless operations, courses of medication and growth hormone regimes, but also from the reaction of others who suggested to me and my family that it would be difficult for me to “lead a normal life” in later years…
Well, with a determined spirit – although I still face further heart operations in the coming years – I decided many years ago to show that people suffering from the condition can lead a rich and fulfilling life. Previously I have made my way on foot and on public transport through Africa from Cape Town to Nairobi, have competed as a member of a “Tall Ship’s” Crew on several occasions and have obtained my “Class 1 HGV Licence” !
To further prove that NS sufferers can be as crazy and active as anyone else and to raise awareness and funds as a “Thank You” to those charities that have assisted me I devised my most recent and ambitious plan…
I raised limited sponsorship from companies based in my home region, prepared my vehicle to “expedition standard”, secured regional radio and press exposure (through my own efforts) and set off.
Unfortunately, despite successfully reaching NordKapp and traversing the Baltic States, Belarus and Ukraine the “wheels came off” (almost literally) 100 miles from the Russian border in Ukraine…
An intoxicated, uninsured driver travelling at night in a small hatchback hit the Land Rover so hard it was turned onto its side! I escaped unhurt. Sadly the Landy didn’t..!
I managed to limp the badly damaged vehicle back to England where, with the help from friends I have rebuilt it. (It needed a new chassis and some body panels).
Don’t let this put you off Ukraine; I loved the country and the people there. I feel the need to put this in as bad news sells and everyone ignores the good. If I listened to the news and all the terrible stories from around the world, I’d still be at home cowering behind my couch scared to answer the door telling people how bad the world is…… I’m happy to say and my parents can vouch for me that I don’t listen very often.
Undeterred I set off again in April 2011.
I am determined to complete this ongoing endeavour to inspire others and to raise significant sums for charity but I can't do this without your help... Will you help me to help others???
Errrr just a quick note by complete I really mean keep going. The phrase “completing the expedition” actually scares me now!