Trip raises thousands

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    KEPT going by a packet or two of liquorice allsorts, a group of Southland men have successfully driven a tractor from Invercargill to Christchurch and back for charity.

    Members of the Thornbury Vintage Tractor and Implement Club wanted to raise money for the Southland Charity Hospital, and settled on a two-day tractor trek.

    Club president Fraser Pearce said they completed the 1200km journey non-stop.

    “The team have really done very well.”

    The group was split into two, each driving half the distance each way.

    Mr Pearce said in just over 24 hours, the 1983 20 D Massey Ferguson engine, or Bert, had only stopped when refuelling.

    The men were welcomed back to Invercargill by a group of well-wishers on Tuesday afternoon.

    The bright yellow tractor: Thornbury Vintage Tractor and Implement Club president Fraser Pearce stands by Bert the tractor. PHOTOS: LAURA SMITH

    “The liquorice allsorts were there just so we could have a nibble when we were driving. That just keeps us awake and gives a wee bit of an energy boost.”

    The group left from E Hayes & Sons in Invercargill on Sunday and drove to the Christchurch Charity Hospital.

    Based on the Christchurch operation, the Southland version would offer treatment to patients referred to them within the Southern District Health Board (DHB) area who are unable to access treatment through the private or public health systems.

    Hospital general manager Helen Robinson said they were thrilled the club had made the momentous journey in its honour.

    “What was such a simple idea will have a huge impact on our message to the community of Southland that we in fact cover the whole Southern DHB.

    “I know they have received huge support along the way people feeding them at every town no doubt they will raise a significant amount of money.”

    The hospital expected to have the capacity to treat from 800-1000 patients a year who otherwise would not get treatment.

    While treatments had begun at a private hospital, the charity hospital would begin to be built this month.

    As of Tuesday afternoon, an initial estimate showed the trek had raised almost $7600.

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