In our article, Printware Rallies Round for Hospice, we looked forward to the Air and a Prayer Rally, in which Printware BDM Dale Hilton and team-mate Tom Atkinson planned to drive over 450 miles to Scotland and raise money for Julia's House children’s hospice. Here’s how they got on…
Setting off from Dorset full of hope for the journey ahead, Dale and Tom soon ran into difficulties which threatened to scupper their efforts. It seemed that the Air and a Prayer Rally was about to claim its first casualty as the brake callipers seized on the team's Mazda MX-6 but some quick thinking and a great deal of perseverance saved the day. After a quick pit-stop and the purchase of a watering can, Dale and Tom were able to continue, albeit slowly, as they had to stop every half an hour or so to cool down the brakes, using said watering can.
Despite the setback, the team made it to the overnight stop in Wigan and, somehow, even managed not to be in last place, although they did arrive three hours behind the leaders. Taking a leaf out of the Jeremy Clarkson car maintenance handbook, Dale and Tom effected a more lasting repair of the brake callipers with that most versatile of tools, the trusty hammer.
With the repairs in place and a good night's sleep behind them (we're reliably informed that everyone was safely tucked up in bed by 9pm), the drivers were ready to face the second leg of their long journey north. The luxury of driving with fully-functioning brakes meant that the drive from Wigan to Loch Lomond went relatively smoothly, although there was still time for some excitement before the finish.
Most of the teams departed the motorway at Glasgow and headed across country but Dale and Tom elected to stay on and reaped the rewards as they sailed along empty carriageways. Their hard work was nearly undone, though, as, arriving on the shores of Loch Lomond, they pulled into the wrong hotel entrance. Fortunately, the other drivers had made the same mistake and our team passed a stream of cars heading the wrong way as they exited the hotel grounds.
Unscheduled detour notwithstanding, the decision to stay on the motorway as long as possible paid off, as Dale and Tom finished in a very respectable third place. With Printware's contribution, the total raised by the team came to a whopping £816.25, making all those pit-stops more than worthwhile. Of the 31 cars that started the rally, 30 crossed the finish line – not bad, considering that all the cars cost less than £300 and had to complete over 450 miles.
The Air and a Prayer Rally was a huge success with the fundraising target of £20,000 smashed and the current total standing at over £43,000. "Raising this kind of money is exceptional for us," said Lin Hudswel, Community Fundraising Manager for Julia's House. The money raised will pay for a paediatric nurse for a year, which means that the hospice will be able to provide ongoing one-to-one care for the children.
Given the success of this year's efforts, there is already talk of the rally becoming an annual event and, hopefully, it will help to ensure that Julia's House can go on giving top quality care for seriously ill children for the foreseeable future.
by Anthony Morgan