Niels Bernsden, Tomb Raider fanatic and ardent Lara Croft fan, is to cycle from his home in Amsterdam all the way to Derby, England in order to meet the Tomb Raider design team at Eidos-owned developer Core Design and the official Lara Croft model, Lucy Clarkson.
Lara Croft made quite an impression on Niels when he first encountered her in Tomb Raider back in 1996. He has now played all four Tomb Raider games extensively, owns practically every single piece of Lara Croft merchandise from boxer shorts to a life-size mannequin, and produces an incredible wealth of his own Tomb Raider memorabilia including letters and cards to Lara Croft and her creators, poems, imagery, Tomb Raider-inspired music compilations and even videos that explain his devotion to the world's most famous cyber-heroine.
Niels is proud to say that Lara Croft has had a profound effect upon his life, encouraging him to venture to new countries and take up sports such as mountain-biking, skiing, scuba diving and target practice. He writes regularly to Core Design and also to Lara, often concerned for her safety and always signing his letters as 'the one who always, always will give for, care for and love Lara Croft'
When asked to explain why he is such a fan Niels says: 'Lara means a lot to me. She has changed my life. Thing's I wouldn't do in the past like all the extreme things that Lara is doing, I'm doing now. For example scuba diving, mountain climbing, extreme skiing and, of course, adventuring. I do not shoot guns. (smile) To me, Lara Croft is much more then just a beautiful archaeologist adventurer. She's intelligent, strong... she's got an enormous amount of willpower, She's extremely athletic... and she's very charming... to the fans that is. To me she's the one... the number one.'
Core Design and Lara Croft are extremely proud to have such a dedicated fan. PR Manager, Susie Hamilton says: 'Lara receives thousands of letters from fans but we've never encountered anybody as devoted, sincere and enthusiastic as Niels - his letters are beautifully written and illustrated and he keeps us updated with all his thoughts and ideas about Lara every week.'
When Niels recently proposed his trip to meet Lara's creators, Core embraced the idea. Managing Director, Jeremy Heath-Smith adds: 'Our fans are of paramount importance and we hope that by showing our support for Niels we can go some way toward expressing our thanks to all the people out there who have bought and love Tomb Raider. Core immediately set about helping Niels with his long journey - a round trip of almost 500 miles. Niels will be wearing exclusively branded Lara Croft cycling gear whilst on the road plus a range of Lara Croft merchandise during his evenings spent camping at locations in Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire. He will also be carrying a banner to brand his tent area, along with Lara Croft cut-outs, stickers, postcards, posters and flyers for the fans he meets along the way. Lucozade, which features Lara Croft in its television advertising, is supplying as much of the Lucozade Energy brand as Niels can drink - a surefire way to keep his energy levels boosted, ensuring he reaches his destination on time - this is one date he certainly won't want to be late for!
Niels first overnight stop is scheduled for 3nd September at a Cambridgeshire campsite, followed by a site in Leicestershire the following evening. Here he will be met by Susie Hamilton, Core Design's PR Manager, plus the editor of the world's most authoritative Tomb Raider website The Croft Times. Luis Cuna of Croft Times is being flown into England courtesy of Core Design to document Niels journey and also to share insights about Tomb Raider. Upon his arrival, scheduled for 4pm on Tuesday September 5th, Niels will be greeted by the Tomb Raider Design team, Core's Directors and by Lara Croft herself, aka Lucy Clarkson. After a champagne presentation and pictures, Niels and 'Lara' will be going out for dinner together... a dream date and certainly a dream come true for her biggest fan!