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Tonka is back in Reading after successfully completing the round trip to Georgia and back. The 30-year-old truck has many more miles on the clock but made it home to Reading without breaking down. Not only did Chris Pengilly and Mark Barrett reach Tbilisi in Georgia to raise funds for No5, the Reading-based charity providing free counselling and mental health support to young people, but they went on even further into Armenia. Chris commented, “Tonka has a few more rattles now, but it’s not surprising a few screws fell out, the local roads were unbelievably rough”.

The trip through Western Europe was pretty much as expected, although we had a huge storm in Italy which brought the traffic to a halt, but once we crossed over into Turkey, and Asia, the world changes.” says Mark. Going on to explain the border controls, “The borders were a particular problem. Long queues of lorries, up to 11 ½ miles, and very thorough checks on everything, especially Tonka’s paperwork. We were usually held for around  3 hours, but they wouldn’t let Tonka into Georgia for 3 days sorting out a bureaucratic issue!”

Talking about the people they met Mark said, “Everyone we met was incredibly friendly, supportive and helpful, and even the border guard’s attitude was understandable. We were very close to Syria and Iran, so they are bound to be on high alert.”

Working in construction Mark observed the differences in infrastructure, “The amount of investment taking place in Turkey is amazing – new airports, ports, roads and high-speed rail links. Georgia is investing in roads too, but Armenia was a different story. Incredibly poor, lots of derelict Soviet-era factories, and not much going on to replace them.”

It was a tremendous adventure and good fun, but it’s good to be back home, even if it’s a bit cooler since we left!” says Chris. 

Carly Newman from No5 added, “We are so proud of Mark and Chris for completing this challenging road trip to Georgia and want to thank them and all the supporters on behalf of the young people we provide counselling to at No5“.

The trip was supported by Thimbleby and Shorland auctioneers, Francis Construction and Premium Car Parks which means that every penny raised goes straight to the No 5. To donate please visit the Just Giving page at  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tbilisitonka  or you can donate £5 by texting ‘TONKA’ to 70085.