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Welcome home! Traveller completes charity Marco Polo expedition

05 September 2006

A gathering of the 'great and the good' will take place at a special reception on Wednesday 6 September to celebrate the homecoming of Daniel Lillis who journeyed from Venice to China in the footsteps of Marco Polo to raise money for The Children's Hospital Trust Fund at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

A gathering of the 'great and the good' will take place at a special reception on Wednesday 6 September to celebrate the homecoming of Daniel Lillis who journeyed from Venice to China in the footsteps of Marco Polo to raise money for The Children's Hospital Trust Fund at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

Daniel, a 47 year old Magistrate and Government Relations Consultant from London, began his journey on Monday 17 July and finally arrived into Beijing, China from Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia at 3am on the morning of Wednesday 23 August 2006.

Daniel has visited a children's hospital in every location at which he has stopped on his long journey crossing countries including Italy, Turkey, Armenia, Iraq, Mongolia and China.

He also made a special journey with Baroness Cox (who will be present at the Reception on Wednesday) to meet with The President of Nagorno Karabakh and was received by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Armenia.

Daniel said: “We thought we were coming off route when we diverted to Nagorno Karabakh but, to our surprise, we found a section of the old silk road route passing right through the ancient City of Shoushi. I was delighted by our discovery.”

Daniel also thanked all the British Embassies along the route who made him so welcome and were always on hand to provide advice and support.

Although the London welcome home party is on Wednesday, Daniel has one more section of his journey to complete. Due to the historical link between the Papacy and the travels of Marco Polo (Pope Gregory X gave papers to Marco Polo to present to Kublai Khan), the Vatican are arranging for Daniel to travel back to Rome for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI in thanksgiving for his safe return. He will then travel direct to Venice for a civil ceremony followed by a meeting with the Archbishop of Venice.

Thanks to the generosity of sponsors who covered Daniel's travel expenses, all the funds raised will go directly to The Children's Hospital Trust Fund. The Fund, set up in 1981, has so far raised more than £1m which has been used to purchase medical and surgical equipment for paediatric areas of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

The welcome home ceremony will be attended by many of Daniel's supporters who are delighted that his grand expedition has been a huge success.

Speaking in Beijing, where he completed his journey, Daniel thanked his sponsors and supporters and gave a special mention to Charles Henderson, the Administrator of The Children's Hospital Trust Fund (registered charity number 283091).

Daniel added: “My visits to the many children's hospitals throughout this journey have resulted in requests for greater contact between these hospitals and staff of The Children's Hospital Trust Fund and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. I hope that my initial contact has begun a much larger and long lasting alliance which will be of great personal and professional benefit to all who become involved.”

Note to Editors

The welcome home ceremony is taking place at 12 noon on 6th September on the "stage" on the 1st floor, Lift Bank C at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, 369 Fulham Road, London SW10 9NH.

Daniel Lillis and celebrities will be available for a photocall and interviews at that time. Alternatively, Daniel has a selection of photographs from his journey which he is offering to the media free of charge for their use. Daniel can also be contacted for interviews by telephone on 0774 063 6049.

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