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Polly de Blank (1977-2013) was an accomplished, well travelled journalist who worked for the BBC World Service from 1998-2008, researching and producing documentaries including Slavery Today, the Musical Legacy of Slavery and the award winning youth programme The Edge. She was also the founder and director of the Yoga Agency studying all aspects of Yoga, including ancient traditions and Sanskrit. She sat on the Board of South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. She battled Bi-polar disorder with her characteristic intelligence, bravery and self containment, but could no longer cope with the knowledge that there is no cure.
Polly's sisters, Martha and Clemmie, are raising funds for two charities that were important to Polly; MIND for the work they do to help people afflicted with mental health issues, and Prisoners of Conscience who help people who have been persecuted for their conscientiously-held beliefs. Polly was a fighter for human rights and equality for all, including those who suffer stigma due to mental health problems.
Why Mongolia? Shortly before she died Polly was given a Patterdale puppy whom she called Mini Bongo because he looked like his sire, Bongo, and this became Mongo. At the same time as Mongo went to live with her, Polly and her sisters had an at home film night and watched Mongol (2007). Thus the association took root and has grown into a plan that her sisters feel would amuse Polly. The ride will set off on the 1st August 2014 and take about 30 days.
Martha's son, Polly's Nephew, Conor de Blank who is 17 and studying photography will be photographing and filming the ride [link to youtube to be supplied] The team will take a a guide, and Diary's that will be edited together with and illustrated with Conor's beautiful Photographs on their return to hopefully prove an amusing loo or coffee table book insight into traveling as a family unit. Proceeds of the book will be split equally between the two charities.
This is going to be quite a trip, Clementine has hardly been on a horse since Pony Club days. Conor has hardly ever been on a horse, and Martha is going to attempt to do it side saddle, in a child's saddle because the mongolian horses are small. They will be camping.
Mark Todd is generously sponsoring our riding kit including hats, breeches and suitable boots, and Northumbria Equine have tailor made Martha a fantastic sheep skin lined adjustable side saddle pad to keep her ponies comfortable in such a foreign saddle. We still need sponsors for travel costs, camera hire, insurance, hire of horses and the guide. If you would like to be a sponsor, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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