Changing times bring changing outlooks but even back in 1984, well before the plethora of today’s health and safety laws and risk-averse attitudes, an overland school trip to far-off India was considered somewhat extreme. And doubly so, given that travel through Iran was unavoidable despite Iran at the time suffering the upheavals of the Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution and engagement in a bloody war with neighbouring country Iraq.
The idea behind this 10000-mile, eight-week journey was to present a ‘retired’ old school Ford Transit minibus to the charity ‘Lepra’ to aid its life-saving work among India’s rural poor. Ten pupils aged 12 to 16, accompanied by two teachers, made up the delivery crew, in so doing possibly making the longest school minibus trip ever undertaken. One of the boys travelling (aged 15 at the time) said recently: “Surviving all the adventures and hairy incidents, all I can say is that I set off as a boy and returned as a man.”