Brave pair’s road leads to Rome

Chris and Annabel White
Chris and Annabel White
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DRIVING 4500 miles in a beat-up banger is usually not advisable, but it’s worth the risk when it’s for a good cause according to a local volunteer.

Chris White and his wife Annabel, from Redding, are joining the Top Gear-esque Rust 2 Rome (R2R) challenge across Europe to raise money and celebrate 30 years of the Grangemouth-based International Rescue Corps.

The relief charity attended its first disaster in 1981 weeks after southern Italy was rocked by the Irpinia earthquake on November 1980 leaving nearly 3000 people dead and 300,000 homeless.

The couple are now hoping their Toyota MR2 will make the 4500-mile return journey to the Italian capital in commemoration of the charity’s beginnings without falling to bits.

Chris, who owns fire protection firm, Firebreak, in Bo’ness, said: “We’ll be doing an average of 250 miles, seven hours a day in this car that we bought for £500 especially for the challenge.

“We’ve got a lot of duct tape and cable ties in the boot and hopefully that will fix anything that breaks, because neither of us are mechanics, although we are covered by European AA insurance.

“It’s got 92,000 miles on the clock already so it won’t be quite 100,000 when, or if, it returns. Only 60 per cent of the cars that do this challenge make it back and we’ve heard some colourful stories.

“Despite all this it will be a great adventure and to raise money for International Rescue, which we are now members of, is the important part of it. We’d like to thank all the local businesses who have taken out sponsorship on the car and we’re hopeful of getting more.”

The challenge starts on October 8 and the couple and the other cars hope to reach Rome in 10 days, coming back in four, taking in places like Paris, Nice, Venice, the zig-zag Stelvio Pass made famous on Top Gear and the Mont Blanc tunnel in Switzerland.

To enter the R2R challenge, each participant’s vehicle must be old and have cost no more than £500. Entrants can drive up to 350 miles a day and the whole rally drives together in small groups of around four cars. Charities are chosen by the drivers.

If your car breaks down and can’t be fixed there and then you’re out of the challenge and have to make your way home.

The R2R route to Rome is 3043 miles with the return leg around 1500 miles, making the journey just over 4500 miles.

Chris and Annabel are currently on a fundraising tour and will be at the Co-op store in Polmont on Saturday with the car and a donation bucket. Businesses can buy advertising space on the car.

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