Archive for the ‘John O’Groats to Land’s End’ Category

“Are you mad?” Was one of the first reactions I received when I proposed a circuit of the M25 as a route for the 2014 Pink Car Rally.  Another was simply “Why?”

 I have, personally, avoided driving on the M25 all of my life! So why was I now proposing it as a potential rally route? Well, I am very aware that there are lots of pink cars in London and the Home Counties, but I wasn’t keen to take the rally into London.  What I really needed to do was to encourage the Londoners to come out of London! I know that the M25 has often been referred to as the world’s biggest car-park, by frustrated motorists, but in the 2012 John O’Groats to Land’s End Pink Car Rally, when we were stuck in traffic on the M5, neighbouring car drivers wound down their windows and asked what the rally was all about, so being caught in congestion was time well spent on promoting the charity. We even received a few donations!

This year’s rally will be on 6th & 7th September. Pink participants will gather in the car-park of Sainsbury’s Langley, Slough, at around 9am, for a 10am departure. Some will no doubt arrive early, to enjoy a cooked breakfast and to stock up on supplies for the road-trip.

There will be a comfort-stop at South Mimms service station at around 12 noon (traffic dependent) and we will move on from there at around 1pm, heading for intu Lakesidewhere we hope to arrive at around 3pm.  We have permission for a ‘coin collection’ here, so if you’re local, please pop along to support us.  We will happily relieve you of your loose change!  We will leave the shopping centre at 7pm, crossing the Dartford Bridge and making our way to our overnight accommodation.

Sunday 7th Sept will see the pink procession leaving Dartford at 9.30am, heading for Brands Hatch, Britain’s best-loved motor racing circuit, for a Pinkie brunch, before the ‘Official Start’ of day 2 of the rally at 11am.  From Brands Hatch, the rally will head for a ‘special stop’, which has only just been announced… Epsom Hospital…. where we hope to bring a smile to the faces of lots of children. We aim to arrive there at 12.15 and leave at 1.30pm, heading back to Sainsbury’s at Langley, Slough, to complete our circuit, at around 4.30pm

 

Please note, timings are approximate! We have only allowed ourselves two days to complete the 118 mile circuit! You can follow our progress throughout the weekend via Twitter #OrbitingTheOrbital @pinkcarrally @saligray and via our Facebook page www.facebook.com/pinkcarrally

 

Pinkies on the M25

We did it! Without any hold-ups or delays!

If you can’t make the rally but would like to make a donation, you can do so via JustGiving – thank you.

 

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It’s exactly 240 days since my last blog post. Why the long delay? I was hoping to write blog updates about the progress of the 2014 rally, but until a few weeks ago no progress had been made. In September, a ‘save the date’ announcement (7th & 8th September) was made and in October I had created an outline route and contacted the two ‘major’ comfort/media stops, seeking permission to use their car-parks. Frustratingly, it took until July for one to agree and the other still hasn’t said yes or no! I must take responsibility for some of this. I run my own business and I am a single parent to three young adults, so rally planning is done in my ‘free time’, which is usually in the evenings…. leaving me unable to make lots of badgering phone calls in office hours and at a disadvantage to large charities with dedicated fundraising teams.

During a recent business meeting with someone from the area local to the proposed rally route, I was asked how the rally was progressing. When I explained the ‘challenges, he brought google maps up on his computer and suggested an alternative venue in the area. Initially enquiries didn’t hold out much hope, but I’m forever the optimist and so I emailed a heartfelt request and, to my delight (and great relief) it was met with a resounding ‘yes’, so I’m in the process of finalising the route which should be announced in the next few days.

One of my frustrations with the Pink Car Rally initiative is the lack of national media support. Another is my inability to attract a major celebrity. The rally has enormous potential, but without these two key elements, I fear it may never reach it. Never has this been more evident than in the comparison between our rally and Chris Evans’ FAB1 initiative. How many people, new to the rally, know that in 2012 the Pink Car Rally travelled from John O’Groats to Land’s End, over six days, raising over £16k for the Little Princess Trust charity, which gives ‘real hair’ wigs to children and young people who have lost their own hair, primarily through chemotherapy? The national media didn’t want the story without a ‘hook’ although we were well supported by regional newspapers, social media and local radio. We targeted Chris Evans, because of his love of cars, but the BBC stated that we were not one of their ‘chosen’ charities, so couldn’t help! In 2013 Chris Evans created the FAB1 initiative, travelling from Land’s End to John O’Groats to a huge fanfare and media frenzy. The national media couldn’t get enough of the story. I travelled to Cribbs Causeway to see him and his entourage and was rewarded with a smile and a wave. Later, when he passed Blossom on the motorway, he pointed, smiled and waved again. Hopefully he saw the Pink Car Rally website address on the side of my car! I do love Chris Evans and have enormous respect for what he has achieved, but I’m sure you – like me – can see the irony.

So here I am in August, just a few weeks away from the 7th annual Pink Car Rally, praying that we can get enough media interest to swell the number of pink participants at this late stage. And you, dear reader, can help us by sharing this blog far and wide, RT’ing our tweets and ‘liking and sharing’ our Facebook page. If you happen to know a celebrity, please, please, encourage them to support us.

One organisation has been particularly supportive of the Pink Car Rally this year. I met Motorhappy on Twitter and they have been absolutely amazing… to the point that they turned Twitter pink for a day!  I can’t tell you how #Motorhappy that made me! 

I would just like to finish this blog post by saying a massive THANK YOU to Motorhappy and everyone else who has supported the rally. We have over 3000 likes on our Facebook page, from over 40 countries. Between my Twitter account and the Pink Car Rally Twitter account, we have nearly 3000 followers. We appreciate each and every ‘share’ and RT. Thank you.

Pink pit stop during 2013 rally

Pink pit stop during 2013 rally

 

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We made it! We arrived in glorious sunshine too!

We made it! We arrived in glorious sunshine too!

We arrived at Land’s End on Sunday 19th August 2012, at the end of our epic six-day journey, where we travelled the length of Britain, raising awareness of (and funds for) the Little Princess Trust charity, which gives ‘real hair’ wigs to children who lose their hair, primarily through cancer treatments. We were exhausted, but exhilarated. New friendships had been formed, old friendships rekindled and, best of all, we had raised a total of £16,067.06 which would fund 45 children’s wigs!

That was supposed to be the FINAL rally; the culmination of a 5-year awareness-raising programme. BUT, for so many reasons (some of which I will share with you in a future Blog) there WILL BE a 2013 Pink Car Rally….. so please ‘save the dates’ – 7th & 8th September 2013. We will be travelling to Nottingham and ‘other destinations’ to be confirmed. Please follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/pinkcarrally and on Twitter @pinkcarrally and @saligray to ensure you don’t miss any updates. If you know of anyone with a Pink Car, please mention the rally to them. Thank you.

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This was the start of our trek across a mountain pass, which got narrower and steeper until we were driving through dense fog, with no mobile signal. We drove for 26 miles on this track, which delayed our journey by 2 hours! What a start to the rally!

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We did it!!!

Struggling to hold our banner, in the high wind and heavy rain. Yes, it's mid-August!

Struggling to hold our banner, in the high wind and heavy rain. Yes, it’s mid-August!

Well, we’re nearly at the end of February 2013 and I still haven’t managed to update my Blog! I had such great plans, prior to last year’s epic rally! I had upgraded my Nokia to an iPhone and invested in an iPad, to ensure I could write a daily Blog, updating our followers of our progress. In the event, both failed L or more to the point, I failed! I couldn’t connect to the internet, I locked myself out of Facebook and when I tried to re-connect, I was banned for some ridiculous amount of time, because I was trying to reconnect through equipment I hadn’t connected with before…. I could continue, but suffice to say I had to undergo a steep learning curve, whilst the other delightful Pinkies filled in the gaps for me!

So – huge apologies to everyone for the lack of communication.  Hopefully you all managed to keep abreast of things through Social Media?  Miranda from The Sunny Times http://www.thesunnytimes.co.uk/?s=pink+car+rally was an absolute God-send and made huge efforts to contact us along the way and then report on our progress.  Twitter was awash with sightings, although I don’t think we quite managed to ‘trend’.

The Rally was the most incredible journey – from the moment we left, in heavy rain, gale-force winds and (at the last minute) hail, having discovered that the A9 was closed and having to follow the satnav over the mountainous Highlands, to the moment we arrived in Land’s End, six days later, in glorious sunshine.  There are so many stories to tell – far too many for a Blog – but I have started writing them down and hope to produce them in some form or another, in due course.

I would like to thank everyone who supported the Pink Car Rally and the Special Pink Raffle, for your kindness and your generosity.  Together we raised an incredible £16, 067.06, which will fund 45 children’s wigs.

I will leave you with one story, which could perhaps be better described as a cautionary tale.  Having been diverted off the A9 onto a single-track mountain road with ‘passing places’, I wasn’t too concerned, until my SatNav instructed me to “Turn Right”.  Have you ever had one of those moments when every inch of your body is telling you NOT to do something…. and yet…. I didn’t know the road at all and the SatNav became pretty insistent…. so I obeyed and turned right. Well, the mountain road with ‘passing places’ may have been WITHIN my comfort zone, but I quickly realised that the track I had turned onto, which incidentally had LONG grass growing along the centre of it, was well OUTSIDE my comfort zone, especially as it was no wider than my car, showed no sign of passing places and was heading steeply upwards, into thick fog! However, a glance in my rear-view mirror affirmed that there was a complete convoy of pink vehicles behind me and NO place to turn round. I started to ‘glow’ (well, I am a woman!) when I looked at the unmade road ahead, complete with massive potholes and I wondered just how ‘low’ the suspension of the Pink Porsche was…. and whether the Smart would enjoy climbing the very steep mountain track….. I turned to my 15 year old navigator.

“Lissy” I hissed, “How many miles does the SatNav say we will be on this track for?”

“26”

And with that, the SatNav lost signal.  In fact, all method of communication was lost – there was no mobile phone signal and the fog was so dense that I could really only see the car behind me, and very little in front of me! I knew there was a sheer drop, to my left and there was no precise edge to the track! It was the longest 26 miles I have EVER driven and it delayed us by 2 hours.  I clearly remember arriving for coffee at Dornoch, two hours later than anticipated, and thinking “This is only the beginning of our six-day journey”.

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