A YOUNG explorer who plans to trek almost 2,000km on horseback across the vast inhospitable landscapes of Eastern Kazakhstan has received an award for boosting relations between the Central Asian country and the UK ahead of his daring adventure there later this year.

Former Marling School pupil Jamie Maddison, who lives in Whitminster, was presented with a framed silk scarf for the 'best individual contribution for furthering relations between the UK and Kazakhstan' by the British-Kazakh society at an awards ceremony at the Houses of Parliament on Thursday, March 21.

Along with a friend, the 24-year-old will set off next month on an expedition to retrace the footsteps of the little-known British explorer Sir Charles Howard-Bury who journeyed through the world's ninth largest country exactly 100 years ago.

The centenary trip, which will see Jamie travel east to west across Kazakhstan before cycling 3,000km through Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, has now also received the support of the legendary explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who recently agreed to become patron of the pair's expedition.

In a message to Jamie and his co-explorer, Sir Ranulph, the first man to cross Antarctica completely on foot, said: "The Howard-Bury expedition represents part of Great Britain's continued tradition of exploration and adventure across some of the planet's most under-visited regions.

"I am wishing the team the best of luck with the many difficulties they will encounter on this logistically-challenging journey across Central Asia."

Jamie said: "It was a really special moment when someone who is described as the world's greatest explorer in the Guinness Book of World Records says he will back your adventure."

The aspiring explorer received his award from the chairman of the British-Kazakh Society, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, during a lunch in the members' dining area at the House of Commons, which was also attended by diplomats and business leaders.

"I had been in contact with the president of the British-Kazakh society for about a year, having asked for a bit of information and help previously, and she just got in touch to say we have put you forward for this award," said Jamie.

For more information about Jamie's trip or to make a donation, go to: www.indiegogo.com/osa