Early September saw four directors from the agricultural machinery manufacturer CLAAS UK swop their tractors for a £900 black London taxi with 350,000 miles on the clock, with the aim of driving to Monte Carlo and back in just 48 driving hours.
Dubbed the CLAAS UK ‘Monte Carlo or Bust’ challenge after the 1969 classic movie, the CLAAS four were doing the challenge in order to raise money for the British Heart Foundation in memory of their colleague and friend Patrick Wells, who died unexpectedly following a heart attack a year ago.
The aim was to raise £10,000 for the charity, and their cardiovascular research and work towards improving the treatment of heart conditions. But such has been the support from within the agricultural industry and those that knew Patrick, that this has already been considerably exceeded, with a total of nearly £30,000 raised to date.
The challenge departing from the CLAAS UK headquarters at Saxham near Bury St Edmunds on the evening of Thursday 30th, the first anniversary of Patrick’s death, and was started by his wife Karen, with many of his colleagues and customers he had worked with during his 47 years at CLAAS sending them on their way.
The team of four was made up of CLAAS UK CEO Trevor Tyrrell, CFO Thomas Spiering, Retail Director Richard Vaughan and Property Director Paul Butcher, plus their 16-year-old Black Cab. This was christened Little Nellie in recognition of the James Bond autogyro that featured in You Only Live Twice and the fact that Monte Carlo and the surrounding area was often used as a location for Bond films.
The challenge saw the team of four and Little Nellie travel through six capital cities and eight countries. Leaving at 7.30pm on the Thursday evening, on the outward leg they travelled through London and Paris on the way down to Monte Carlo, covering nearly 1,000 miles, which took them 19 hours of driving in the taxi which only has a cruising speed of 65mph, on the flat, and a fuel consumption of around 25mpg.
After a night’s rest, they left Monte Carlo on Saturday morning travelling back to Saxham via Italy; Berne in Switzerland; Germany; Luxembourg, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and finally Brussels in Belgium, prior to travelling back through the Euro Tunnel at around 5.15am on Sunday, and finally parking Little Nellie at Saxham at 7.10am.
In all, they completed the challenge in 45 hours, so 3 hours ahead of schedule and covered a total of 2,021miles.
The JustGiving page (www.justgiving.com/fundraising/claas-fundraising-montecarlo) is still open for further donations. And if anyone wants a black London Taxi now with 352,000 miles on the clock, Little Nellie will be auctioned off later this year with the proceeds being added to the fundraising total.
The CLAAS UK team celebrate their arrival in Monte Carlo after 19 hours of driving. From left Richard Vaughan, Paul Butcher, Thomas Spiering and Trevor Tyrrell with ‘Little Nellie’, their 16-year-old 350,000 mile London taxi.