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By: R. Neville Tate OBE

Transit to India

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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.”

Son of a Yorkshire farmer, R. Neville Tate OBE’s first employment was as a graduate apprentice in aeronautical engineering. However, an urge to travel led to a career change, taking up a post as a science teacher in Buenos Aires where he spent 13 years. Using the long school holidays Neville crisscrossed South America, at first by motorcycle, but later leading numerous schoolboy adventure expeditions to many of the wildest parts of that continent. Canoeing, or cycling, or horse-riding long distances demanding circumstances was often part of the package.

Returning to the UK in the mid-seventies, Neville was soon immersed in a new adventure of quite a different sort, becoming the founding headmaster of Yarm School, one of the very few “Public Schools” to be started from scratch since World War II.

Current hobbies and interests include light aircraft flying, gardening and model railways, and of course, adventure travel. Neville, as a constituency delegate addressed the 1976 Conservative Party Annual Conference and served for five years as a non-executive director of the North Tees Hospital Trust.

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