Student with second life gets set for Sahara Rally 2009

Published: 26 June 2008 at 14:34

As he celebrates securing a major sponsorship deal with Anglia Ruskin University.

A man who nearly lost his life in 2006 when he contracted MRSA from a hospital stay is planning a second rally to the Sahara desert in July 2009 with a group of 28 other volunteers as part of a drive to raise money for his two chosen charities.  His car, sponsored by Anglia Ruskin University, has just been liveried for the 8000 km trip from Cambridge to Zagora, Morocco. The route takes the cars through England, France, Spain, Gibraltar and Morocco. Over the high atlas mountain range and 400 miles through the Sahara Desert.

Karl Scarr, (44), from Cherry Hinton Cambridge, is preparing for this, his second, Saharan rally to support his very own Scarred4life Fundraising Society, which was formed soon after his release from hospital at the point when he realised that he had not quite ‘done enough with his life’.  Scarred4life is now the official UK fundraising society for both charities.

At the same time, the former nightclub owner, restaurateur and taxi driver, had also launched himself into a ‘second life’ with a new career as a full-time university student, taking a Foundation course in Life Sciences at Anglia Ruskin University before progressing to start a degree in Zoology. 

His course tutor, Deborah Clements, explains how the Foundation year in Life Sciences at Anglia Ruskin University is specially designed to give students a new start in life.

“Karl has thrown himself with great enthusiasm and success into his new career and I look forward to working with him over the next three years as he further develops his life-long interest in ecology and conservation.  Indeed Karl’s particular interest in East African wildlife and its conservation complements research already established in our department through the Animal Behaviour Research Unit run by Life Science lecturers Guy Norton and Dawn Hawkins in Mikumi National Park in Tanzania.”

Karl’s wife, Sally, a languages graduate, also from Anglia Ruskin University, is from Morocco. The owner of a taxi business in Cambridge, she has helped to plan the fundraising trips and to select the chosen charities.

Talking about his recovery from MSRA, Karl said:

“After leaving hospital I decided to change my lifestyle and my long-term priorities.  After I had sorted out my own life, I wanted to help make a difference to other people’s lives, particularly children, and to also do something to help with conservation.”

“It was a tall order but that is exactly what I have done.  So far, I have worked with two charities and I am currently looking to assist with a third project to set up a women’s refuge, also in Morocco with my sister.”

The two charities to benefit from this fund-raising rally are the East African Wildlife Society in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zanzibar, which works to promote the conservation and of East Africa’s wildlife and the environment; and La Creche de Tanger, an orphanage for babies in Morocco, which relies solely on the generosity of the few supporters.

Karl explained:

“In my new, or second life, I am highly proactive. I don’t watch television.  I just live life and give myself new challenges every day.”

“We’ve actually made things harder for ourselves this year by pushing on to the Western Sahara. From last years’ experience, we know that we could be subjected to longer periods where we could enduring temperatures of anything up to 55 degrees centigrade. Some of the volunteers have the benefit of last time’s rally to draw on but we do have some first-timers who will need expert advice to help them cope with the environment which can be extremely harsh.”

“It is the 11 day trip of a lifetime – and a real challenge for ordinary people like me - which will help to raise funds for my chosen charities. I am indebted to our sponsors for the help they are giving us to make this trip work. It’s all about giving some time and effort to raise as much money as we can and we try to have some fun while we do it.”

Karl Scarr will be raising money in the build up to the 2009 trip by visiting shopping venues throughout the region during the summer months.  He will be in Basildon, Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Colchester, Ely, Southend, and outdoor events like the AquaFest and the summer country shows.

Sponsors of the trip include Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge Evening News, Star 107, Select Telecom, Select Car Kits, Ambient Graphics, Sea France, Next Generation Health Clubs, Ambassador Lodge Hotel, Eye Care Ltd.

A film producer from Shepperton Film Studios is going to film the Rally for a documentary he is currently working on. His interest in the trip involves the fact that he adopted a baby boy from the Moroccan orphanage last year and is going back to La Creche de Tanger in 2009 to collect a second young son. The producer has entered a camera car with a presenter and has some celebrities entering and helping with publicity to alert people to the plight of these young children.

Anyone who wants to donate money to these charities or join the rally can contact Karl Scarr on 07799 140988; email