The wheels are in motion for what promises to be another extraordinary fundraiser for the Southland Charity Hospital – and it’s one the late Blair Vining would likely have approved of.
Come May, members of the Thornbury Vintage Tractor and Implement Club will embark on a mammoth journey – a 1200-kilometre tractor trek, driving one tractor non-stop from Invercargill to Christchurch and back, all to raise funds for the Southland Charity Hospital.
The tractor – a yellow Massey Ferguson 20D (a 1980s model imported from the UK) – will be on display at the Thornbury Heritage Centre and club members will be on hand to have a yarn over the coming weeks.
The journey itself is expected to take between 42 and 44 hours, shared between eight drivers and with an average speed of 30 kilometres per hour.
The concept was initiated by club member Tom Parkes, and it was one club president Fraser Pearce was immediately drawn to.
“We’d looked at buying a brick (as part of the charity hospital’s Buy a Brick campaign), but then thought, we can do something a bit different. One of our club members, Tom Parkes, came up with the idea, and he just thought it would be a great fundraiser for the charity hospital,” Pearce said.
“The thing is everybody’s got a cancer story. We’ve all followed Melissa and Blair Vining’s story closely, and a lot of us know what cancer can do, so if we can help, that’s great.”
Tractor treks are nothing new to the Thornbury Vintage Tractor and Implement Club, they form part of their usual activities and they have held fundraisers in the past. And this one will be special – because it’s one tractor and it’s non-stop. And it falls in the midst of the club’s 65 year celebrations.
“There’s a real camaraderie within the club – I can’t understate the volunteer hours that go into it, nothing’s ever a problem and it’s a very active membership.”
Blair Vining himself, who helped launch the charity hospital in his final stages of bowel cancer in 2019, spent many hours driving a tractor as part of his job, so it seems almost fitting now that a Tractor Trek will serve as a fundraiser for the hospital.
Southland Charity Hospital general manager Helen Robinson said the idea had created a real excitement.
“We’re so excited about this – we can’t wait – and we’re so grateful that the Thornbury Vintage Tractor Club has chosen to support the hospital in this way,” she said.
“It will be great to have the trek officially launched, and we hope people will come down to E Hayes on the 2nd May and wave them off in support of this wonderful club and what they are doing.”
The public can support the Tractor Trek by texting Tractor to 4644 which automatically donates $3 to the cause.
Online at www.tractortrek.co.nz people can sponsor them per KM or donate a fixed amount.
Sponsorship forms are available at many local shops and businesses including: