Matt was very interested to hear about the adventure his Aunt Joy was planning in Borneo. He was a great advocate of people who were prepared to try something new, especially when it meant pushing themselves out of their comfort zone. Operation Raleigh is a very good example of the sort of thing that Matt would have enjoyed had he had more time.
Joy was an Administrator on the expedition, working as a member of the operational team, supporting the expedition from an office in Kota Kinabalu. The overall responsibilities were to develop and maintain the administration systems of the expedition both within the main office and at the mobile site, which was a one hour drive away. This involved correspondence with government departments and other agencies, the collation of personal and project reports together with all training documentation and the management of the Staff and Venturer database systems. She was also responsible for the communication with Raleigh’s Head Office, the extension of all staff visas and the safe issue, storage and return of personal valuables. As well as this she also undertook a practice trek into the rainforest.
Thanks very much to Joy for writing the following post, and to Steve A. Freeman/Operation Raleigh for the fantastic photographs – a great start for Matt’s Future Travels …
“Matt was very keen on travelling and when he knew that I had been offered a place with Raleigh International to go to Borneo he was excited for me. Raleigh was something that he was very interested in and I know that if he hadn’t been poorly it would have been something he would have considered doing himself over the summer.
As Matt’s Aunt and Uncle we had spent a lot of time with Matt, Peter and Michaela during his illness and after he died I had an incredibly difficult decision to make. Did I go or should I stay at home? I didn’t want Peter and Michaela to feel deserted but having made sure I was going to be contactable, and having had a promise from Paul that he would do his best in my absence, we decided that I should still go as it was something I had wanted to do for a long time and Matt would have been urging me to go.
Raleigh work with young people aged 18-23 on a range of sustainable development projects. In Borneo this means working in local communities to provide a supply of fresh water and sanitation in remote rural villages.
My expedition also included two environmental projects – one in Danum Valley up in the north, where Raleigh is helping scientists build a pedestrian suspension bridge to give access to the rainforest for scientific research.
The other is helping a nursery which collects seeds from critically endangered species of tree, grows saplings and then replants these in areas which have been released for replanting and growing of the rain forest. This is a very important project as almost two thirds of the rain forest has been cleared for palm oil.
A sapling was planted in Matt’s memory in Danum Valley – the coordinates are N 05.12815′ E 118.14063′, alongside one for his grandfather (my father) Robin at N 05.12813′ E 118.14064′.
In addition to the project work undertaken by the volunteers they are also able to go on a 17-18 day trek into the Crocker Range. Having to carry their own food, water and essential gear they make wilderness campsites overnight and cook their own food. This is often seen to be the most physically challenging aspect of their expedition and is very strenuous. Working as a team they learn that they can push their own boundaries, both physical and mental.
I suggested to Peter and Michaela that Paul and the girls could perhaps bring Matt’s ashes with them when they joined me at the end of April 2017 for a family holiday at the end of my project. They agreed that they would like this and so on 23 April, some of Matt’s ashes flew almost half way across the world to Kota Kinabalu to spend almost two weeks in Borneo, thus starting what will hopefully become a long list of places that Matt will visit through family and friends. He visited mainland Kota Kinabalu, staying at the Shangri La, Tanjung Aru (very nice) and then had a short boat trip across to Gaya Island where he stayed in a wonderful cottage with an amazing view over the bay.
He was then flown back to the UK – a very long flight, before being reunited with Peter and Michaela.”