Fundraisers head to Italy for banger rally challenge

An adventurous fundraiser hit the road for a banger rally challenge across Europe in memory of his friend and colleague Andrew Blackburn.

Bob Parker, along with his brother Stefan and friend Hamish, drove from Oxford to Venice over five days – raising money to support hospice teams that cared for Andrew until he died in October 2018, aged 47.

Bob, 43, worked alongside Senior Games Mathematician Andrew for nearly four years. “On the face of it he was a quiet person but what I loved about Andy was his dry sense of humour and killer wit,” says Bob, who is Director of Product Strategy at Core Gaming. “He would often sit in meetings and not say a word until the end and then come up with a line that would leave everyone in stitches. He was also an extremely intelligent guy.

“I’d heard about the support Andy was getting was from the hospice so when colleagues and I talked about fundraising it seemed like a natural choice because of our personal connection.”

The Banger Rally challenges participants to purchase a car for under £500, customise it and then take on the epic road trip across Europe. Bob, Stefan and Hamish, took to the roads in their 18-year-old Western-themed Mercedes – a banger with over 300,000 miles on the clock!

Bob says: “The three of us drove around Australia when we were in our early 20s so it was a bit of an adventure and a flashback to our younger days! Since Andy’s passing, I learnt he did a lot of travelling in Europe and it’s been mentioned by friends and family that this is exactly the sort of thing he would have loved.”

Joining 50 other cars from around the UK, the trio crossed France, Belgium, Germany and Austria before crossing the finish line in Venice. It is not a race but competitors can pick up points by taking part in daily challenges and bag prizes for most imaginative fancy dress and best decorated car.

Speaking after the challenge, Bob said: “The trip was fantastic and the views and scenery along the way were spectacular. We wondered if the car would last, as over the first couple of days it struggled with vibrations on moderate hills – so we never expected to get up the Alps. However, ‘Sadie the Mercedes’ as she was named, flew up the mountains without trouble and made it to Venice with no issues. Being taken around the Nürburgring in Germany by a professional racing driver (in a BMW M5) was a memorable moment, along with hiring a speedboat on Lake Garda.” 

A huge thank you from everyone at John Taylor Hospice to Bob, Stefan and Hamish for taking on such an epic challenge and raising so much money to support people living with a terminal illness and their families.

There is still time to sponsor the team by visiting www.justgiving.com/fundraising/banger-rally2019

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