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Early on Thursday 15th September, 37 cars and 124 people set off for Dover to start the VADO Rally 2016. They had come from Dundee in Scotland, Newport in Wales and across England to do one thing – raise money for the industry charity, the Rainy Day Trust.  Aaron Frogley from VADO had taken part in a similar challenge the year before and decided that there should be something like it to raise money for the Trust and set about pulling the idea together.  From there the idea grew and the VADO Rally 2016 was born.

Teams of up to 4 people from across the builders’ and plumbers’ merchant sectors were invited to take part in a banger rally, buying a car for less than £500, and then to drive down through 8 countries to Monte Carlo, before moving on to Nice for an awards dinner.  The Rally would take 4 days and would cover 1,300 miles.  Each team was set a target of £1,000 to be raised for the Charity, and a trophy would be awarded to the team that raised the most.  To make things a little more interesting, the Rally was to be done in fancy dress with different themes each day, and challenges were set for each team to complete during the day.  The teams crossed the Channel by ferry dressed as cowboys, or in Heatcraft’s case, cowboys on blow up horses!

Day 1 was a drive from the start point in Namur in Belgium, through Luxembourg to Metz, then on through Strasbourg to the second night in Freiburg, Germany.  The first day’s challenges were to provide photographic evidence of tasks completed; arm wrestling a complete stranger, wearing one green shoe, making – and wearing – a swimming costume made from a carrier bag, having a stranger play a musical instrument in your car, or finding and being photographed with a bronze crocodile!  The teams all had free reign for their fancy dress theme which resulted in pirates, Top Gun, pop singers and ballet dancers in tutus – and that was just the men!  The second day jumped off from Freiburg, teams dressed to an Oktoberfest theme, and headed south through Switzerland and the Gotthard Pass to Como.  Several cars stopped off at the Verzasca Dam for some of the teams to do a bungee jump on the dam filmed in the Bond film Goldeneye.  The challenges on the second day centred on collecting items; a postcard showing a goat, an Audi brochure, a receipt for as many items as possible costing less than €1 in total and an American quarter amongst others!  Trevor Mudd of Chandlers Building Supplies managed to convince the lady serving in a delicatessen to cut him 100 pieces of cheese at 1 cent each!  For the drive itself, the Furka and Gotthard Passes proved a challenge in their own right, and one car turned back to find an easier route having blown its radiator. 

Day 3 was a straight drive from Como to Monte Carlo with a Christmas fancy dress theme, stopping off at Vado Ligure to be photographed next to the road sign.   Santa costumes in cars with dodgy aircon and 25 degree heat made things a bit uncomfortable.  But driving along the coast road with the most spectacular scenery was a fitting end to an amazing rally.  The locals in Monte Carlo were a little confused by the spectacle of 37 cars and people in fancy dress driving passed their Casino.  Not really a place to linger at €33 for two beers, the teams headed out of town to Nice for the night’s celebrations.  Amazingly, all 37 cars completed the rally intact driving on to Nice, though one failed right outside the hotel and had to be scrapped. 

It was fantastic to see that all the teams entered into the spirit of the event with amazing fancy dress costumes and highly decorated cars. From a Jaguar XJ6 with a mini shed on the roof, to a VW Golf completely resprayed to look like the Cheshire Cat.  One team member even received a marriage proposal while dressed in a tutu; must have been his legs.  The Rainy Day Trust car had been decorated with the logos of the firms that had sponsored it, and survived the drive down to Monte Carlo despite nearly burning out the clutch and wearing out the brakes going over the Furka Pass. Twitter and Facebook are full of photographs of the teams and their cars throughout the rally.

At the evening’s awards dinner Aaron presented the winner’s trophy to Trevor Mudd of Chandlers Building Supplies for an amazing points tally nearly double the second-placed team.  Best dressed Car went to Plumbwell , Best Dressed Team to Hughes Forrest  with Best Team Spirit to Heatcraft Ltd.  The team that raised the most money for the Charity at £4,500 was InverTay Homes who took home the hand-fused glass trophy made by Steve Robinson Glass in St Davids, Pembrokeshire.

As CEO of the Rainy Day Trust, the thing that stood out for me was the strength of bond between the teams. The support that they gave each other, the banter, the sense of fun that glued them together. Everyone was out to have a good time as well as support our charity by raising as much money as they could. For 5 days we watched as tired people got up each morning with renewed energy to put on another fancy dress costume and play their part. One of the prizes at the dinner in Nice was for Best Team Spirit – when Aaron asked me who I wanted to vote for, the answer was simple – all of them.

The event was a huge success in every sense, organizationally, socially and from a fundraising perspective. While some funds are yet to be received, we expect to have raised in excess of £65,000 during the Rally which is incredible for the Charity and we look forward immensely to the next one.  The CEO and Trustees at the Rainy Day Trust want to thank publicly Aaron Frogley and the team at VADO for the immense amount of time, energy and hard work that they put into the Rally.  The money raised will be invaluable in helping people from our industry who are struggling.   I can’t wait for the next one.

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Lots of fun was had by all, competition was all in good spirit all for good causes. The boys at Heatcraft aka “Team Heatcraft Piston Shattered” had a great time joining in to raise money for the Rainy Day Trust; check out their story….

The Vado Rally 2016

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