The University of Southampton

An incredible journey – ECS students take ambulances to Mongolia

Published: 27 April 2012

A group of University of Southampton students are preparing to undertake a 10,000 mile journey this summer, with the aim of delivering two ambulances to the people of Mongolia.

The students - Alex Forward, Neil Howarth, Ian Cooper, Matt Lokes, and Richard Barlow (from ECS-Electronics and Computer Science) and Greg Dymond and Beresford Bernsen (both studying Geophysics), will travel across Europe, through Russia and into Mongolia, as they take part in the Mongolia Charity Rally. When they arrive in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital, in August, the team will donate the ambulances and other medical equipment to the rally organisers, Go Help, a charity which works with local communities in Central Asia to improve access to education and healthcare services.

The Vauxhall ambulances have already been acquired, and the team are now busy fundraising and planning the logistics of the journey. “We will be driving 10,000 miles through 22 countries on this journey," says Alex Forward, "so one of the challenges will be to keep the ambulances in good electronic and mechanical condition. Hopefully, with five engineers on board any problems encountered will be quickly solved!”

The total cost of the trip is around £22,000 and the team’s website provides an account of the costs involved, as well as a wish list of equipment needed for the journey, including sleeping bags, cooking utensils, engine oil and maps!

The Mongolian Health Services are in desperate need of vehicles like the ambulances that the team will be delivering. “Useful patient transport in Mongolia is in incredibly short supply," says Alex, "made worse by the country’s poor road conditions. We are working directly with the charity Go Help to ensure the vehicles are put to immediate use after we deliver them.”

En route to Mongolia, the students will also be undertaking various projects, including digital CB-radio communication, high-output LED lighting and modifying the ambulances to survive the harsh road conditions.

"We expect plenty of challenges along the way”, said Alex, “but no other University of Southampton team has ever finished the Rally to our knowledge, so we aim to be the first!"

The students are supported by generous donations from alumni of Electronics and Computer Science and by a growing number of individuals. If you would like to donate to the team, or to offer any sponsorship (there are plenty of opportunities!) visit the team’s website at:

For further information on this story contact Joyce Lewis; tel.+44(0)23 8059 5453.

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