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Poppyscotland statement issued on behalf of Operation Ragnarok
19th August 2015
Although Operation Ragnarok is not being organised by Poppyscotland, we have been kept closely informed about its planning and purpose and funds are being raised on the charity’s behalf from the challenge. As a charity committed to ethical fundraising, we are very concerned about allegations of illegal off-road driving and damage to the environment in Iceland. We take these very seriously and have therefore, made careful enquiries into this matter.
As soon as Rhys Rowlands and Matthew McHugh, the men undertaking the challenge, became aware of these allegations they immediately halted their challenge and made contact with the local police to ensure the concerns were properly and effectively addressed. The have also kept us closely informed.
The Icelandic police have investigated the complaints. After making a full investigation, the police have confirmed that Operation Ragnarok has not committed any offence. The challenge has been taking place only on marked routes and designated areas, with no off-road driving and with careful regard to the environment.
Matthew McHugh said:
“We have not done anything wrong and we were glad to be able to work with the police to confirm that we have been following the legal and correct procedures for driving in Iceland. Our challenge has taken a lot of careful preparation and research and we took the advice of local experts when planning our trip. Since we arrived in Iceland at the start of August we have adhered to their advice throughout.
“In hindsight, we can see that our tone and language in our videos and social media posts were perhaps over-enthusiastic and adventurous. We are extremely sorry if we have caused offence to anyone. We think that Iceland is an amazing and beautiful country and we have strived to be respectful and considerate to this stunning landscape. We are also very grateful to the friendly and supportive people whom we have met on the way.
“We intend to carry on with our challenge with the same very careful consideration to the environment and to continue to explore this beautiful country and to continue raising funds for charity.”
Rhys Rowlands added:
“The Icelandic people have been incredibly helpful to us, offering support and advice. We are now seeking opportunities to work with the Icelandic police, mountain rescue and tourism board to try to produce current and up-to-date tourist brochures and documents to inform tourists how to conduct themselves while in this spectacular country.”