Long Horse Ride is the brainchild of Megan Lewis,
who is responsible for formulating and organising
the venture. Educated at St Paul's Girls' School,
Hull University and the School of Oriental and
African Studies, she is a former Head of Geography
at a London girls' school. With husband Iestyn
Thomas, she now lives on a farm in South Wales
where she breeds welsh ponies and large welsh
part-breds under the Cwrtycadno prefix.
She is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society
and the Royal Geographical Society.
was educated at Llandovery College and Loughborough.
He has variously worked in teaching and the
foreign exchange market, as well as building
up his own small sportswear business Harlequin
International. In 2004 he left teaching to concentrate
full time on running the beneficiary charity
ChallengeAid, which he originally
Besides sailing, his other main interest is
rugby, and he has coached premier clubs Harlequins,
London Welsh and Llandovery, among others.
and Iestyn have three children, Gethin, Gwenllian and
explains how it all came about: -
My zest for travel and fascination for Asia was sparked
by an idyllic childhood in Malaya, where my father was
a headmaster and author of geography textbooks, and
holidays were spent travelling to exotic locations.
However at that time China, Central Asia and Mongolia
were essentially closed to the West, and when I went
to university, I chose a degree in Southeast Asian studies
and geography, following this up with an M.A. and research
on Southeast Asia. I then took a PGCE at London University
and taught for ten years, latterly as Head of Geography
at a London girls' school.
the U.K, all my holidays were spent at our Carmarthenshire
home, and it was here that my love of riding was fostered
after learning to ride on my uncle's shepherding pony
as a child. I took particular delight in disappearing
over the hills of central Wales on my pony, sometimes
for days at a time on overnight or week long forays,
and often dreamed of a more ambitious expedition. However,
between the demands of education, career, and then a
young family, somehow the opportunity never arose. In
the 1980s Iestyn and I moved permanently to Wales to
run my parents sheep farm.
taught locally for several years, in 2002 Iestyn devised
the simple but effective idea of a charity appeal which
encouraged children to raise money for disadvantaged
children through exercise. Initially running it on a
voluntary basis in his spare time, he got the campaign
going in local welsh schools, from where it spread nationwide.
Schoolchildren for Children was officially launched
in 2004 when he received private sponsorship from Paul
Brewer (founder member of Rubicon Fund Management Ltd)
and other old rugby friends to run this rapidly expanding
charity. Since then it has raised nearly a quarter of
a million pounds for children worldwide, and has just
been launched in the USA.
the start of 2007, all our children had left home, and
I found myself if not with unlimited free time, at least
with the freedom to follow up some of my unfulfilled
ambitions. It was then that the strands of an idea began
to pull together in my mind. My long held dream to undertake
a long horse ride, my interest in Asia fuelled by the
opening up of China and Central Asia, the sport and
fitness promoting element of the charity - add to this
the imminent Beijing and London Olympics, which also
provided an obvious starting point and destination,
and all these factors gelled to form the concept of
the Long Horse Ride. Eventually I plucked up courage
to ask Iestyn the burning question.
would you say if I told you I wanted to ride from Beijing
to London between the Olympics to raise money for Schoolchildren
his eternal credit, he did not bat an eyelid, and a
challenge was born