From Bristol to Venice - LITIG supports car rally for charity

Guest post by Andy Taylor - Head of IT at Clarke Willmott

It's funny how so many "good" ideas start with a beer or two. This one did!

A few months ago,  Andy Taylor (Head of IT at Clarke Willmott) and three friends who met playing rugby almost 30 years ago got together for a quiet drink. By the end of the evening, they'd decided it would be a “good idea” to enter a car rally which started in Bristol - and finished in Venice…

The one obvious  hitch was the rules of the rally which said the team must complete the 2,500 mile round-trip in a car costing less than £500.

Cue the purchase of a decidedly down-at-heel Lexus, followed by a two month engineering extravaganza to transform it into a thoroughbred rally car capable of making the trip. In all honesty, at that stage the team would have been chuffed just to make it to the M25!

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But they managed a little better than that, and at the start of September, they joined more than 30 other cars just outside Calais, and spent the next 4 days driving through France, Belgium, Germany, over the Alps, and down through Austria and Italy before finally arriving in Venice.

It was a slightly surreal experience driving into a car park on the outskirts of Venice before jumping onto a Vaporetto and heading up Grand Canal for some serious thirst quenching. The celebrations were to continue long into the night when it turned out that the team had actually won the Venice leg of the rally! A slow-ish start the following morning saw some cars heading on towards Prague, and a few heading ignominiously to the local scrapyard, but we’d decided to bring ours home so pressed on, with just an overnight stop in Dijon on the way to break up the 1100 mile return trip.

 
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As for highlights - there were too many from which to pick a winner. Taking a 20 year old car around the Nurburgring was an experience, as was being woken on the first morning to the sound of Christmas carols from a team who’d turned their car into Christmas sled, complete with Santa, The Grinch and elves who were handing out mince pies. Mistakenly driving through a pedestrianised area as a result of Google Maps being left on “Walking Directions” was a joy, as was the (unprintable) banter in the car, and the sense of relief that our brakes had held out on all of those hairpin bends.

The real highlight though was the comradery among the teams. If you ever wanted confirmation that boys and girls never grow up – this was the event to prove it. Not everyone will understand what drives someone to turn a Ford Transit into the Mystery Machine, or spend 4 days dressed as The Stig, but if this  makes even the slightest bit of sense to you then you should do one of these events!

As for lowlights there genuinely weren’t any, and much to the annoyance of those who’d mischievously expected (or hoped) that we’d encounter at least one breakdown, the car didn’t miss a beat. In fact, it’s already been sold to a member of the armed forces who’s doing a similar rally next year with the proceeds from sale going straight into our fundraising pot.

Whilst we’d not set out to raise money for charity, it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss so we set ourselves a fairly modest £500 target. With the generous support of so many people, including a fantastic donation from Litig, we smashed this out of the park and eventually raised almost £2,500 for two incredible charities. Duchenne UK, who work tirelessly to accelerate treatment and a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (a life limiting genetic disease affecting young people), and Cancer Research UK who continue to undertake research into curing this horrible disease which unfortunately impacts on all too many.

So a huge thank you to Litig and everyone else who supported this ridiculous adventure from 4 blokes who are old enough to know better!

Your generous donations will help to change lives.

Thank you.


Sultan Khan