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Glossop charity worker embarks on marathon Christmas trek to Bosnia

Matthew Corrigan

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Rod HowatBosnia and HerzegovinaOut of the AshesMatt WildeTimpsonGlossopHigh Peak

Former engineer and businessman Rod Howat

For the last twenty-one years, former engineer and businessman Rod Howat has visited Bosnia and Herzegovina to help victims of the war that raged across former Yugoslavia throughout the 1990s. Though the fighting officially ended more than two decades ago, much of the populace is still suffering from its effects. For those unable to leave, poverty is a way of life. Children are particularly affected.

Rod first visited the country in March 1996. Following the death of his wife, Jean, he joined a group of tradesmen on a humanitarian mission to help convert a derelict building into a clinic. Touched by what he saw, he was determined to do more to relieve the suffering.

In 1997 he formed the charity, 'Out of the Ashes' and today there are over a hundred children on its books. At 74, he still makes several trips each year and is starting to see improvement.  On December 10th he will climb aboard his ex-army Land Rover for the three and a half day journey, driving the 1500 mile route solo. In the immediate aftermath of the war there were many dangers, with pockets of armed fighters roaming the countryside and the international hunt for war criminals underway. Thankfully, things are calmer today but he is still mindful of the hazards, especially as he sleeps in the truck en route.

Bosnia

As well as Christmas presents, Rod will be taking parcels of clothes and shoes to the city of Tuzla, just in time for the harsh Balkan winter. He is being helped by Matt Wilde, who runs the Timpson concession at Glossop's Tesco. Matt is repairing shoes that have been donated and helping to package clothes. Donations of clothes, new or used are welcome until December 5th.