Belfast Telegraph

Minister completes Mongolian ride

The Chancellor is to face a fresh funding demand from Cabinet colleague Owen Paterson after he followed a trail blazed by Genghis Khan and completed an epic 1,000-kilometre horse ride across Mongolia.

The Northern Ireland Secretary of State is looking forward to knocking on the door of No 11 to collect £100 sponsorship pledged by George Osborne.

Mr Paterson, 54, and wife Rose endured temperatures fluctuating from freezing to 35C, unforgiving terrain and hostile wildlife as they rode 14 hours each day on the charity trek across the Mongolian wilderness.

"Good businessman that he is, the Chancellor promised me a cheque, but only on completion," Mr Paterson revealed as he recovered from his adventure in Ulaanbaatar.

"So I am looking forward to collecting that."

The Patersons, who were also sponsored by Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, were the oldest of 23 participants who journeyed to Asia to retrace the pony express communication trail first set out during the reign of Mongol emperor Genghis Khan more than 800 years ago.

However such were the hazards they encountered on the ride, only 10 completed the journey.

"One poor guy we were riding with from Hong Kong lost both his thumbs, one guy broke his wrist, we had people with cracked ribs and others had to drop out with severe dehydration," said Mr Paterson.

"It was by far the hardest thing I have ever done."

The Patersons have so far raised more than £50,000 for a number of good causes, including the Royal Irish Regiment's Benevolent Fund and the Midlands Centre for Spinal Injuries - both based in his Shropshire constituency.

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