It seems like a crazy thing to do, and it certainly is unusual.  Friends, Jonney Tohall from Newtownabbey and Ryan Lewis from Carrickfergus spent 6 weeks in India travelling a journey of 2,500 km in a rickshaw!  They named their team “Second to Naan” and the pair travelled on a 7 horsepower three wheeled glorified lawnmower (known as a Tuk Tuk) along rugged and mostly unfinished roads through villages, jungles and desert from Jaisalmer North India to Fort Kochi in South.

Jonney Tohall, said about the challenge, “So many people said we were a bit mad but it didn’t put us off!  The date of the challenge was postponed by covid, but we finally got to head off on our challenge in January and what a start to the New Year it was.

“Ryan and I have seen first hand the fantastic work carried out by the air ambulance team, so it was a natural choice for us to fundraise for Air Ambulance NI.”

“We lost count of the times that our rickshaw broke down but we held onto the fact that it was all for a good cause and it was the experience of a lifetime.  The local people were so helpful and we were welcomed into their communities and to share in the culture.  We have memories to last a lifetime and are already thinking of what our next weird and wonderful challenge could be.”

A total of £7,333.54 was raised for the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) which is tasked out to a critically ill or injured patient on average twice per day.  The service is provided by a partnership between Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and Air Ambulance NI.

Kerry Anderson, Head of Fundraising at the charity, Air Ambulance NI said, “This is certainly one of the most unusual fundraisers in aid of our charity and it was fantastic to meet Jonney and Ryan and hear a little about their travels.  They are determined, resilient characters up for a bit of fun and the fundraising efforts are truly incredible.  Importantly, the funds raised will help the medical team lift off by helicopter to reach future patients, wherever that may be in Northern Ireland.  This is very much a service that no one wishes to need but is there for every one of us.   Thank you from our charity team for your efforts and to everyone who donated.”

As the spring and summer months draw in, the HEMS is expected to experience an increase in call outs and the charity is appealing for continued support.  Kerry added, “Whether you choose to take on an extreme challenge like Jonney and Ryan or something more down to earth, all support will help.  As a charity we have a range of events including abseils, runs and sky dives, but choosing something that you enjoy is always best.  You can contact us on 028 9262 2677″

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