By Tim Montgomerie
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Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and his wife Rose are set to raise more than £50,000 for good causes in the province by taking part in the 621 mile Mongol Derby. They will ride an average of sixty miles per day in one of the most gruelling races of its kind. The Press Association notes that "the Mongol Derby is modelled on warrior Genghis Khan's legendary system for communicating across his vast empire." PA continues:
"In imitation of Genghis Khan's Pony Express system of communication across his enormous empire, they will change horses every 40km (25 miles) at isolated nomadic settlements. Weight is at a premium, so they will only carry 5kg (11lb) of overnight kit and clothes for 10 days. The nomadic villages will provide mutton stew and unpalatable fermented mares' milk."
Owen Paterson commented:
"The weather will vary from fierce sunshine to violent storms, with freezing nights. We expect to have to cross mountains, marshes, forests and desert. River crossings will be our only opportunity to wash. We have been told to expect rabies, ticks and severe chafing amongst other hazards. Of the 20 riders so far committed, we are the only British and the only over-50s. We are doing it now, because if we don't we never will, but we do hope to raise significant sums for our three charities."
- The Royal Irish Regiment Benevolent Fund which provides financial help and other much needed support for members, their widows and children. Three soldiers from the Regiments were killed during their recent tour of Afghanistan and another 16 were severely injured in the service of their country.
- The Midlands Centre for Spinal Injuries which provides extraordinary care for patients with severe spinal cord injuries and undertakes groundbreaking stem cell research which has a worldwide reputation.
- Mercy Corps Mongolia which tackles hunger, poverty and conflict with programmes focussing on economic opportunities for the rural communities of Mongolia.
If you would like to give please click here or make out a cheque to O W Paterson (and writing Mongol Derby on the reverse) and send it to: The Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, House of Commons, London, SW1A OAA.
Read more about the Mongol Derby here.