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Just passing through – with an important message

The Thomases gave a very informative and entertaining presentation to the Castle Pines Rotary Club on October 14.

Article by Kathy Dunker with photos by Kathy Dunker and courtesy of Huw Thomas

Castle Pines Rotary had two special guests at their October meeting. British cyclists, Huw and Carolyn Thomas, from the ShelterBox disaster relief charity, were passing through Castle Pines in the midst of an adventure of a lifetime. The Thomases are a quarter of the way through a 10,000 mile tandem bicycle journey to raise awareness for the ShelterBox organization and spread the word about the work this charity does to help victims of disaster.

Married for eleven years, the Thomases met while working as journalists for local newspapers in their hometown of Cornwall. Huw joined ShelterBox in 2006 to manage the charity’s publicity and fundraising. Carolyn later went to Pakistan as part of a ShelterBox Response Team to ensure the boxes were delivered exactly where they needed to be. Deeply inspired by their encounters at ShelterBox and avid cyclists, the Thomases set out on an epic cycling adventure with a purpose; to link ShelterBox affiliates around the world.

Starting in Vancouver on August 8, the couple has already traveled close to 2500 miles. After brief stops in Montana and Wyoming, they took their first big break for one week in Colorado during the middle of October. The Thomases often camp or are hosted by Rotarians during their travels. They stayed with Castle Pines Rotary President, Karl Krueger, while in Castle Pines and spoke to several Rotary groups as well as scout organizations, and schools. Huw commented, “The hospitality we have gotten from Americans is fantastic! Way beyond our expectations!”

Equipped with maps instead of GPS, towing all of their gear in their ShelterBox, and taking on about fifty miles per day, some of the travels have not been easy. Huw recalls riding along I-80 in Wyoming, “Having those big trucks coming right past your shoulder is not a good feeling!” And Carolyn recounts their overnight camp in Yellowstone, “I was quite scared about the bears!”

Although, Huw did recount the easy navigation coming through Wyoming and Colorado since the number of roads are more limited. “When you are on the same road day after day it’s much easier than having to always determine which direction to go.” One of the fun sidelines to this adventure, as Carolyn says, “We get to eat loads more stuff without gaining any weight!”

They plan to make it to Tampa, Florida by Christmas and will take a break to fly home for the holiday. Their travels will then take them to New Zealand, Australia, Northern Europe, and will end back home in the UK and Shelter Box’s main headquarters in Cornwall. The total 10,000 mile bicycle trip will take one year to complete, sometime in July 2011. Their progress can be found on their blog

Since being founded 10 years ago, ShelterBox has sent more than 93,000 boxes of aid to countries all over the world. The charity helped thousands of Gulf Coast residents following Hurricane Katrina and delivered aid for up to 220,000 people to Haiti following the January earthquake.

For more information or to make an individual tax-deductible donation to ShelterBox USA, visit their website at



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