HAILSHAM: Friends in the driving seat for charity rally

Kira Martin (L) and Cassie Galloway (R) who are ona sponsored driving rally to Timbuktu. Jan 6th 2010 E01068M

Kira Martin (L) and Cassie Galloway (R) who are ona sponsored driving rally to Timbuktu. Jan 6th 2010 E01068M

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TWO friends from Herstmonceux will be putting their driving skills to the test by driving a £100 banger 4,500 miles to Timbuktu in a charity rally.

On Friday, adventurous duo Kira Martin, 22, and Cassie Galloway, 20, set off on the three-week trip in a 1992 Toyota Corolla, as part of The Timbuktu Challenge to raise money for the British Heart Foundation and Plan International.

Under the rules of the challenge, participants must find a car costing less than £100, and are only allowed to spend a further £25 making it road-worthy.

Beach Motors in Bexhill donated the 1992 Toyota Corolla, which has been nicknamed, “Spirit of a Star,” and carried out the MOT and service for free.

The pair will meet up with five other teams in southern Spain, and motorists will travel unaided through two continents, eight countries, two mountain ranges, a minefield and the Sahara Desert, before reaching the finish line in Timbuktu, West Africa.

At the end of the charity drive, the cars will be auctioned off for local charities.

The friends, who work at adventure company PGL in Herstmonceux, were inspired to take part in the charity rally after Kira spent time travelling in Senegal, where she has sponsored a family.

“The first time you go over there you get your nerves,” she said. “It can be a shock because it is so different.

“There are two extremes. People are willing to give away everything they have got.

“If you say no to them all the time they get offended.

“All they want is for you to come into their house so they can feed you and spend time chatting to you.

“I got a taxi from a guy who had started a taxi business up from the car which he had received from a previous rally and he had been able to support his family for five years.

“They can fix anything out there. Even a car worth £100 over here is much more valuable over there.”

To follow Kira and Cassie’s progress, or to make a donation, log on to the website www.justgiving.com/timbuktuchallenge or www.justgiving.com/spiritofastar