Elsie’s Horse & Carriage Journey Stops Off in Henley

Elsie Gregson was born with a rare disease called Mitochondrial Disease last October and sadly died after just one month. Despite the hard work and dedication of the consultants and nurses at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital Elsie’s complications from her condition meant that there was nothing more that could be done for her and treatment was stopped.

Her parents, Phil and Emily wanted to make a legacy in her name and have set off on a very unique journey from their home in Southport to the Carmargue coast in France in a horse drawn carriage. A fitting name, Elsie’s Journey Mersey to Med started on 20 July and will cover 1,000 miles.  They hope to arrive in their destination by mid October.

We caught up with Phil and Emily on their stop over in Henley yesterday morning in the field next to Swiss Farm where they had stayed overnight thanks to kind generosity of the Borlase family who own the field and had enjoyed dinner with Tamsin Borlase and her family.

Phil is a time served master Wheelwright from Lancashire. He is the fourth generation of his family to make wooden wheels.  He made the wheels and the top of the carriage but the under carriage was built by his apprentice which was his last project for Phil.  Emily is a qualified veterinary surgeon and the couple are joined by their dogs Pepper and Pann.  The little cob horses, Bear and Killarney were brought specially two months ago for the journey.  Although the wagon is traditionally built, Phil and Emily do have some mod cons on board thanks to a solar panel which charges a battery to give them electricity for their phones.

After 21 days, Emily said “Our biggest challenge is the weather.  We also had a difficult day in the centre of Oxford when we needed to get to a shop and were hemmed in by lots of buses.”  They certainly had a difficult journey to Henley from Ewelme on Wednesday when it rained continuously all day.  Phil and Emily don’t have a set number of miles they travel each day (it’s between 12-20 miles) or any pre-arranged stop overs.  So far they’ve only had to stay on the side of the road for 6 nights.  They decided on Henley after Jackie Harris, a lady who read about their journey on Facebook who knew the Borlase family and asked if they could use their field as their next stop.

Elsie’s Journey is raising money for Liverpool Women’s Hospital, Alder Hey and Claire House Children’s Hospice and so far they have raised just over £3,000.  They hope to reach the magic £10,000.  How did they decide on their journey?  Phil said, “We looked at where 1,000 miles would take us to from home and then the title just fitted too.  We wanted to capture people’s imaginations by doing something new and different.  We have had so many heart warming moments.  The best part has been meeting so many lovely people and finding how kind people can be.”

Leaving Henley, Phil and Emily were heading for Windsor.  They were then planning to skirt the M25 to Epsom and down to Sevenoaks and then to Dover where a local transport company will load the wagon and horses onto the ferry.

Please share and follow their amazing journey on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Elsiesjourney/  Perhaps you can help with their next stop over? To donate go to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/

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