Bristol 403 Chrome Peking to Paris Paul Hickman

Mainmark’s CEO races Peking to Paris for the women and children of Ulaanbaatar

Paul Hickman is Mainmark’s Chief Executive Officer. He joined the business in 2005 and has more than 30 years’ experience in the construction industry. In his spare time, he’s a car enthusiast, music lover and supporter of women’s and human rights initiatives.

He recently brought his lovingly restored Bristol 403 car to the office before it departs for the Peking to Paris rally.

In June, my friend Sebastian Gross and I will take part in the sixth re-enactment of the famous 1907 Peking to Paris automobile race. The race, organised by the Endurance Rally Association based in the UK, starts in Peking (now Beijing), goes through 11 countries, and finishes nearly 14,000 km later in Paris.

We plan to start the race on Sunday 12 June, finishing on Sunday 17 July. We hope to average approximately 430 kilometres per day, with three rest days.

Racing for a cause

By encouraging sponsorship, we aim to raise AUD$15,000 for the Bright Light Organisation, which supports disadvantaged women and children in Mongolia by teaching them life skills. In Mongolia, there is no government safety net for children who miss out on education due to reasons like poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, and physical and mental illness. Paradoxically, Mongolia places a high value on tertiary education, thus making it difficult for women without a degree to get jobs.

The funds raised will be used over 18 months and will help around 380 women and their 986 children, mostly living in single-parent households in slums.

The Bright Light Organisation has run many such programs in the past, helping more than 3,000 socially, emotionally, and economically disadvantaged women and girls earn an independent living and, ideally, breaking the poverty cycle.

Based on the participants’ ability and interests, the Organisation teaches them how to manufacture goods, often arts and crafts, and how to sell them and save their money. There is no government assistance for the project, so it relies on non-government organisations and private sponsorship.

Driving in style

Sebastian, a recognised Bristol restorer, has spent many months preparing my 1953 Bristol 403 model for the Peking to Paris rally, where it will likely be dented on the first day!

The Bristol 403 was a luxury car manufactured between 1953 and 1955. It features a BMW-style radiator grille and has two extra headlights at the side, which is unusual in cars of that era.

The reason behind the race

On a night out in Sydney, my wife and I were transfixed by a Mongolian throat singer named Bukhu. On getting to know him better, we found Bukhu was working to bring his wife to Australia. Long story short, we helped to reunite the couple, gave them a place to stay, and became firm, lifelong friends.

Bukhu’s eldest sister, Munkhchuluun, overcame an horrific childhood injury in which she suffered severe burns to 87 per cent of her body, only to suffer leukaemia at age 23 too. In enormous pain and not expected to survive, Munkhchuluun was eventually well enough to leave hospital three years later.

Though she is still in some pain and must have six-monthly check-ups, Munkhchuluun has married, had a son, works full-time as an archivist in the Mayor’s office, and runs the Bright Light Organisation.

Remembering what it was like to be a child in constant pain, Munkhchuluun wanted to create a program that would help young children. It soon became clear to her that to help children, she would need to help the entire family, and so the Bright Light Organisation focuses on providing support for women and girls alike.

How you can help

To date, we have received more than $2,000 in donations. If you’d like to help, please donate by clicking the button below.