Raising funds for the Southland Charity Hospital has taken on a new direction as eight members of the Thornbury Vintage Tractor and Implement Club embark on a mammoth 1200-kilometre Tractor Trek from Invercargill to Christchurch.

Club members will take turns drivinga yellow Massey Ferguson 20D (a 1980s model imported from the UK) which has been named Big Bird by local school children.

The Tractor Trek, the brainchild of the club, is raising money for the Southland Charity Hospital and will leave E Hayes in Dee Street at 11am on Sunday 2 May 2021.

After travelling along SH1 at an average speed of 30km an hour the tired drivers are expected to arrive 24 hours later at the Canterbury Charity Hospital in Harewood Road, Christchurch, at 11am on Monday 3 May 2021.

The Tractor Trek concept was initiated by club member Tom Parkes, and it was one club president Fraser Pearce was immediately drawn to.

“We wanted to look at a different way of raising funds for the Southland Charity Hospital,” says Fraser Pearce.

“Everybody’s got a cancer story. We’ve all followed Melissa and the late Blair Vining’s story closely, and a lot of us know what cancer can do, so if we can help, that’s great.”

Blair Vining himself, who helped launch the Southland Charity Hospital in his final stages of bowel cancer in 2019, spent many hours driving a tractor as part of his job, so it seems fitting that a Tractor Trek will serve as a fundraiser for the hospital.

Tractor treks are nothing new to the Thornbury club as they form part of their usual activities and they have held fundraisers in the past. And this one will be special – because it is one tractor and it is non-stop. And it falls in the midst of the club’s 65-year celebrations.

The plan after arriving in Christchurch is to have a couple of hours’ rest at the Canterbury Charity Hospital and then start on the return journey home by tractor.

The public can support the Tractor Trek by texting Tractor to 4644 which automatically donates $3 to the Southland Charity Hospital and can also sponsor the trek online at www.tractortrek.co.nz.