Photo gallery & video: East Coast Truckers’ Children’s Convoy sets off from Norwich
Norfolk and Waveney's favourite, and noisiest, charity convoy will be winding its way through Norfolk and Suffolk roads today.
The East Coast Truckers' annual Children's Convoy set off amid a cacophony of horns from Norwich's County Hall at 10am this morning and will be travelling to Lowestoft's Pleasurewood Hills for the day, before returning to Norwich via Great Yarmouth's seafront.
Crowds turned out to wave off the 84 lorry cabs taking part and ferrying children with special needs on an exciting day out to the theme park.
The annual event, now in its 27th year, has established a popular following, with families turning out along the route to see the spectacle, however police are asking spectators to find a safe place to stand and watch and not get too close to the road.
Other motorists using the roads are also asked to remain patient to ensure the convoy, which will have a police escort, is able to travel through the county smoothly.
Mike Read, of the East Coast Truckers charity, said: 'The support we have had has been absolutely fantastic over the past year.
'Apart from the fact we have had a bit of wet start, we are still up and running with the convoy and fully intend to be for a long as we can run it.
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'It has been difficult because we have had to meet a great many extra safety regulations but we have complied with everything we have been asked for, particularly with the highways agency.
'The police as ever are 100pc supportive as are Norfolk County Council.'
Kieran Jermany, 10, from Wicklewood, was one of the lucky passengers getting a ride in the big trucks.
He said: 'I've been excited but a bit nervous, as I've never been in a big truck before. I do like trucks and have got a lot of them at home.'
Kieran is travelling with Jason Dowe, 35, from Halesworth, who was driving a Chassis Cab vehicle.
Mr Dowe, who strapped a teddy bear on to the front of the cab, said: 'This is the fifth year I have taken part. It's nice to see the smiles on the kids' faces and be part of it.'
While the rain held off for the start of the convoy, except for a light drizzle as the last few lorries pulled into Martineau Lane, the charity's operations staff got soaked setting up late on Saturday night at the County Hall car park.
Gerry King, operations manager, said: 'Last night it was horrendous. When we got here this had a river running down it.
'After 26 years it's a fairly well-oiled operation and we had all the trucks in by 8.10am this morning, which is 20 minutes earlier than we ever have before.'
Nick Dunn, 34, and Karen Lake, 35, from Brooke, were among the spectators who flocked to County Hall to wave off the convoy.
The couple normally go to watch the convoy in Great Yarmouth, but decided to come to the start instead this year.
They said: 'We like seeing the lorries and the children and the expressions on their faces. They light up when you wave at them and their smiles are so big. It's a fantastic cause and we signed the petition to keep it going.
'It's amazing they all give up their time to do this for the kids.'
At the end of a long day, Ivan Hardy, of the East Coast Truckers, said the event had once again proved to be worth all the effort.
Mr Hardy said: 'We had a good day, made over 80 children very happy with a unique day out and that is what it is all about.
'The weather was not particularly kind, just as we got to Pleasurewood Hills the rain really fell down, but all still went very well.'
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