For most of us a holiday means a fortnight sunning on the beach in Spain or France. But for Nick Plotnek, a 55-year old property valuer whose day job has him dealing with lease extensions and freeholds, this year’s summer break will take him one-third of the way across the globe to Mongolia, all in aid of charity. On Friday, staff were on hand to wave Nick and his team off from Birmingham Children's Hospital to take part in the Mongol Rally. Nick is hoping to complete the Rally on a small motorbike. He’ll travel through 19 countries, 8 time zones, across 5 mountain ranges, 3 deserts and some of the remotest places on earth.
“My aim”, says Nick, “is to raise £10,000 for the Children’s Hospital Heart Unit in memory of my son, Robert, who sadly died there 9 years ago. It’s the Queen’s Jubilee year, and as Robert was lucky enough to meet her when she opened the hospital in 1998, I thought it would be a great idea to do something positive in his memory.”
The Mongol Rally, which has been running since 2004, is described as one of the world’s last great adventures. The object is to drive 10,000 miles in a totally unsuitable vehicle, travelling through countries you’ve barely heard of, driven by people with minimal mechanical skills, and where the use of a map, never mind satnav, is frowned upon. Of the 330 vehicles that took part in 2011, only two-thirds reached the finish in the capital, Ulaan Baatar.
Nick says his chosen route will test his team, aptly named ‘Idiots Abroad’, to the limit as they visit as many amazing places as possible over the 7 weeks he hopes to complete it in. Leaving his wife and family behind in Solihull, Nick will experience extremes of cold and heat (-10°C to +45°C), as well as climbing one of the world’s highest motorable roads in Tajikistan. And Nick’s biggest worry? “Colliding with a yak”, he told us. “When I was in India in 2007 I hit an elephant on a motorbike, and I’ve still got the scars to prove it!”
The team’s website can be found at www.idiotsabroad.co.uk, where you can follow Nick's escapades as they happen, track his progress, see photos and read his blogs which he will be posting when he's able to get a signal!
Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust provides a comprehensive service to children, young people and their families.
We are one of the leading paediatric teaching centres in the country, with international research and development in areas such as:
- Childhood cancer studies
- Liver disease
- Infection, inflammation and immunity
- Molecular genetics of childhood conditions (how these are passed on, and how they cause disease in the body in terms of chemistry)
- Nutrition, growth and metabolism in childhood
- Drug use in children
- Relapsed and refractory acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
- Infant neuroblastoma
- Infant brain tumours
Our facilities include:
- A 22 bedded Paediatric Intensive Care Unit
- A centre of excellence for children with cancer, cardiac, liver and renal disease
- A national transplant centre
- 280 inpatient and day-case beds including Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
- 38 specialties and supporting departments
- An Emergency Department dealing with over 45,000 patients a year
- Twelve theatres
- Three MRI scanners
- A CT Scanner
- An endoscopy suite
- A catheter laboratory with digital imaging facility
- Burn, Neonatal Surgery and Education Centre
- Wellcome Clinical Research Facility
- Renal Unit
- Teenage Cancer Trust Unit
- Ronald McDonald House (parent and family accommodation).