Friends tackle rally challenge to boost GNAAS funds


Three friends will drive more than 3,000 miles in a £70 car when they take part in a European rally to raise money for a charity. Teammates Jamie Hewison, Joel Smith and Elizabeth Woods will tackle the Monte Carlo or Bust banger rally in aid of the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS). The adventure will see the trio complete daily challenges during a three-day crusade starting on July 22 in Saint-Quentin, France, and hopefully ending with their car intact on July 25 in Monte Carlo.

Three friends will drive more than 3,000 miles in a £70 car when they take part in a European rally to raise money for a charity.

Teammates Jamie Hewison, Joel Smith and Elizabeth Woods will tackle the Monte Carlo or Bust banger rally in aid of the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS).

The adventure will see the trio complete daily challenges during a three-day crusade starting on July 22 in Saint-Quentin, France, and hopefully ending with their car intact on July 25 in Monte Carlo. The group then plan to drive back to the North-East.

The Monte Carlo or Bust rally requires participants to hit Europe’s roads and cities in a car that costs less than £300. The journey has no set route but has rendezvous points at the end of each day for participants to meet. To complete the rally, the ‘banger’ must make it to the finish line in Monte Carlo.

The friends are raising funds for GNAAS and will leave for France, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, on July 20 in their Skoda Felicia.

Mr Hewison, 30, from Hull, said: “The car is a banger, it hasn’t done many miles but it’s old and didn’t cost very much. Hopefully it will make it.

“We have had lots of support towards the car. It’s had lots of servicing and minor repair works done to it by Sunderland College. Lookers Skoda were also generous in donating oil and other bits and pieces for our travels.”

The three competitors work for the ambulance service as ambulance technicians. Mr Smith, 29, from Killingworth, works for North West Ambulance Service and Miss Woods, 25, from Prudhoe, for St John Ambulance. Mr Hewison works for Yorkshire Ambulance Service as an advanced emergency medical technician.

Mr Hewison said: “I have previously worked alongside the aircrew from GNAAS. It is a vital service and the work they do on scene and the speed they get patients to hospital is fantastic.

“There are some people who are alive now that probably wouldn’t have survived if it wasn’t for them.”

The group’s initial fundraising target of £200 was quickly surpassed and the current total stands at around £500.

Mr Hewison said he was upbeat and confident about the challenge.

“The rally should be a load of fun and hopefully it will only take the three days and no longer.”

To support the group on their travels, you can donate to their JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/MCOBstrangers

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