Tractor run sets appeal’s wheels in motion

A tractor run, dedicated to the memory of a five-year-old Inskip boy who lost a long fought battle with a brain tumour in the spring, has set the fundraising wheels of Lancashire Teaching Hospital Charity’s Children’s Appeal in motion with a donation of £6,900.

The second Lancashire Tractor Run, which was renamed Charlie’s Convoy in honour of outdoor-loving Charlie Robinson, who was diagnosed with a Grade 3 ependymoma at just two, also raised £24,375 for the Brain Tumour Charity.

The run, which followed a circular route from Inskip that went past the home Charlie shared with parents John and Nici and brothers Jack and Harry as it trundled through Catforth, Treales, Roseacre, Elswick and Great Eccleston, had 326 vehicles – a mix of tractors, diggers, wagons, vintage and military vehicles. All were decorated in blue – Charlie’s favourite colour.

Organiser Bryan Eccleston, who is hoping the run will become an annual charity event, said: “The response from people was just fantastic. Charlie touched everyone’s heart. Our hope was that Charlie would have been there to watch the convoy but sadly, it wasn’t to be. When we reached his house, we gave his parents flowers and a framed commemorative t-shirt that we had had made.”

Bryan, of Inskip, who was helped by partner Jilly and friend Leigh O’Reilly, led the convoy in his digger, which he drives for his day job, helping out on the family farm at weekends and when needed. Leigh followed in his tractor. Other drivers had come from throughout Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire to join procession in tribute to Charlie.

Such was the keenness of the local community to participate that the run was almost quadruple in size on last year’s inaugural event. Bryan had organised that as a show of thanks to local NHS frontline staff. It had 84 vehicles and raised £4,500 for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Charity.

The run’s donation to the Children’s Appeal will help pay for a shopping list of items to make children’s wards, outpatients and other paediatric treatment areas at the Royal Preston Hospital less scary for the 10,000 babies and young people annually, aged from one day to 19 years, who attend for check-ups and treatment.

The appeal’s £1 million target will buy a seaside themed decorative make-over, virtual sky ceiling panels, air conditioning, reclining chairs for parent sleep-overs, new lifts and hoists, a new mental health suite and play equipment to create  a healing environment. It will also fund a parent break-out zone of a fully kitted out kitchen/dining area.

Fundraising Manager Roya Armstrong said: “We are extremely grateful to Bryan, Jilly and Leigh for supporting Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Charity’s Children’s Appeal with this incredible event and choosing us as a charity to support alongside the Brain Tumour Charity in memory of Charlie.   Putting on an event of this size takes a lot of effort and commitment and gratitude extends to everyone in the community who helped to make the event happen.

“It’s been so heart-warming to see the outpouring of support once again from their local community and businesses which have gone above and beyond to offer their support.  Our hearts also go out to Charlie’s family. Watching the convoy must have been extremely difficult for them but also, they must have felt so proud of Charlie and his legacy in terms of the tremendous amount of money raised in his name for the Children’s Appeal at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Charity.  The funds of £6,900 give us a brilliant start in our ultimate goal of hitting our £1,000,000 target. Thank you. This amazing support will help make a difference to the lives of so many.”