Eric Smart, our fundraising ambassador-on-a-bike, cycled into Kashmir today on the Indian side of the border with Pakistan – aiming for the Golden Temple at Amritsar, where he intended to stay the night.
His parents back home in Aberdeen, Audrey and Stuart, heaved immense sighs of relief. Because they had not heard from him for 10 days while he was pedalling like fury through Pakistan, they’d filed a ‘Missing Persons’ report with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and alerted the police.
Eric had actually been riding through parts of the Punjab without easy access to the internet, he had six days of upset stomach, had to go to hospital twice for treatment and – for most of the time – had a police guard riding with him!
He broke internet silence with an early morning email today to the ME Association when he said just left Lahore and was cycling the last 20 miles to the Indian border. He seemed relieved that he would soon be free from the continuous security protection he had had been given for the last two weeks.
"I have never felt in any danger but understand that people may have been concerned."
Mr and Mrs Smart cancelled the Missing Persons alert immediately after MEA publicity manager Tony Britton broke the news to them just after 8am this morning. Mr Smart hadn’t yet logged into his own computer.
And the family had a happy telephone reunion this afternoon.
Mrs Audrey Smart said: "He had no idea we were so worried, particularly with all the trouble going on over there." She was full of praise for the sympathetic and efficient way she and her husband were treated by the missing persons bureau at the Foreign Office and by Aberdeen Police.
Eric is cycling from Aberdeen to Adelaide in south Australia to raise money for the ME Association, hoping to reach his destination early next year. Tonight, his fundraising total has reached a fabulous £ 7,668.77.
If you would like to make a donation, please visit Eric’s online fundraising page.