Simon Murphy, one of the Drivers, explains why he was so keen to be part of The 2013 Nordkapp Challenge:
To understand why this trip, and the charity it is in aid of, is so important to the participants, I need to explain a little about Morgan ownership. Whilst many try to encapsulate their ownership experience by using words such as: sense of occasion, soul, personality and other poetic adjectives, the reality for us is that it distils down to one word: friendship.
It would be a challenge to purchase a Morgan and not, even in some small way, become part of the fraternity made up of enthusiastic owners, clubs and the factory itself. The very nature of the vehicle seems to engender a positive reaction from owners and non-owners alike. This shared experience is one reason a strong community has built up around these inanimate objects and a why ownership, and the vehicle itself, take on a far deeper meaning.
For many owners, this relationship starts with a visit to the factory and for the participants of this charity drive, it was no different. Having met the people behind our cars and, over time, formed friendships with some of them, it wasn’t long before we were meeting up during adventures behind the wheel. It was just prior to one such trip that Steve Morris, Operations Director of Morgan Motor Company, called me to say that he would not be able to attend. A week before we were all scheduled to depart, Steve had taken his daughter, Lucy (11), for a check-up. For many years, she had been treated for scoliosis but it wasn’t until the most recent trip to the consultant that they noted a worrying development; Lucy seemed to have a defect with her heart. Steve’s call was to tell me that further tests were planned, and possibly an emergency operation.
Throughout the next few weeks all of our thoughts were with Steve, Lucy and their family as they discovered she had a potentially fatal tearing of the aorta, required an emergency operation and went thought the recovery process. It wasn’t until one of our later conversations, just before the operation, that Steve explained that after years of being misdiagnosed they now knew that Lucy had Marfan syndrome. I knew nothing about this disorder and, in truth, had not even heard of it. Steve explained the basics and after our call, I trawled the limited information on the Internet to fill in the multitude of gaps. The fact I had never heard of it and how serious it could be, especially if it went undiscovered, was of immediate concern.
Whilst it would be poetic to say that the idea to raise awareness of Marfan and funds for the charity happened immediately, it wasn’t until a few months later that things fell into place. I received a call from Andy and his proposal was simple: did I want to drive as far South as possible, in a classic Morgan, to raise money for a charity relating to Steve and Lucy? My immediate response was yes and we met to chat it through; very quickly we realised that there were too many obstacles in the way of a Southern route (visas, closed countries, security issues to name a few) and as neither of us had the skills or diplomatic clout of James Bond, it was a no-go. It was then that we decided to turn the compass 180 and to discover just how far North we could drive. It turned out we could drive a long way, in fact, all the way to the Arctic Circle. A long distance, a short amount of time, cold, lonely and in classic Morgans, we seemed to have the recipe for a charity event.
It wasn’t until Andy spoke with Steve, explained what we were doing and asked whether the factory would be interested in lending us a few classic Morgans that the idea really started to snowball. A meeting later and not only were Morgan going to lend us a classic Morgan but also Steve Morris and Tim Whitworth, FD of MMC, wanted to join us in support of the cause; add to that John Richards, another Morgan owner, and the core participants were in place.
Our purpose is simple: raise awareness of Marfan syndrome and funds for the Marfan Trust UK. Having seen Lucy go through the process of misdiagnosis, and the risks associated with this, it is important to raise public awareness of a syndrome that is often unreported and ignored. To do this, the charity needs funding (they receive no government financial assistance) and this is where you can help. Please donate what you can using the donation page and send a link to as many people as you can, asking them to read this site. The more people who become aware of syndrome, the better; if undiscovered, Marfan related issues with the heart can cause death at an early age unless diagnosed in good time
This brings us to the name of the site; we struggled with something that captured the spirit of what we were trying to accomplish until it dawned on us that Morgan Motor Company had already coined the ideal name: Driven at Heart. As Marfan syndrome can devastatingly effect the heart and all the participants wanted to give something back to someone so inherently important at Morgan, the name was perfect.
All the money raised is going directly to the Marfan Trust UK and all participants are funding the trip themselves. Please, dig deep and donate to this very worthy cause.
for and onbehalf of the Nordkapp 2013 Challenge Team