None of this would have happened if it hadn’t been for my friends in Morocco, and I wouldn’t have met them if I hadn’t made a snap decision brought about by me trying to break out of my annual bout of Seasonal Affective Disorder .
I hate the cold, and I hate winter, so in late 2013 to give myself a boost I booked flights for Chris and I to visit Marrakech in January 2014. This simple impulsive act has literally changed my life.
Arriving in Marrakech, I instantly felt at home and it was as if something had been unlocked in me that had been dormant for a long time. I felt alive, I felt inspired; in short, something had pressed my ON switch. A love affair was born!
Fast forward to the end of 2015, and on my 5th visit to the Red City, I was sitting in Place Ferblantiers with my friend Abdul and over a glass of the traditional mint tea he asked me why I hadn’t done the Rallye des Gazelles. The answer was simple; I’d never heard of it!
After investigating, it became my mission to enter the Rallye before my 50th birthday. I had no idea what a journey that ambition would take me on, how intensely emotional it would be, how challenging it would be to achieve, or that it would re kindle another passion in a new form.
I have always loved cars, and we have owned a Land Rover for many years, so faced with a choice of what 4×4 to take to compete in an off road rally, there was only one answer! The Best 4×4 By Far! The story about how Priscilla came into the picture I will save for another post, but at the moment I made that decision, I chose a new path for my life in driving terms, and it is addictive!
One of the real motivating factors for doing the rally was and still is the charity work that is carried out by the humanitarian arm of the organisation, the Coeur de Gazelles. Using the same logistics platform as the Gazelles themselves use, the Coeur de Gazelles take a medical caravan out to the remote populations in the Sahara, around the route of the Rally, and give much needed consultations and help to the people, and also donations of clothing, sanitary supplies, educational equipment and the like.
I am proud to have supported this action through my participation in the rally and was very glad that we got the chance to visit one of the villages where the medics were working on the 2019 edition of the rally.
I feel very strongly that I owe Morocco a great debt, and for me this is a way to give something back. It is also why I am supporting the work of the British Moroccan Society in their funding of Education projects in Morocco. Our friends in Marrakech have a beautiful little girl, and watching her grow and learn has really brought home to me how important education is, and how much the country of Morocco will benefit from a better educated population, as well as individual families themselves. It is with great pleasure that I will be entering the 2021 edition of the Rallye des Gazelles with the British Moroccan Society logo on my car.
At the end of the 2019 rally, one of the best moments for me was taking Priscilla into the Marrakech Medina to introduce her to my friends!