Picture gallery: East Coast Truckers convoy could be its last

Norwich woke up to the sound of honking horns this morning (Sunday) as children from across the county and beyond sat proudly in truck cabins travelling in style to Great Yarmouth and Pleasurewood Hills.

In streets and lay-bys along the route from the city to the seaside town, thousands lined up waving flags and cheering as the East Coast Truckers convoy of 83 trucks set off on a day out for 73 disadvantaged children including those with disabilities, the terminally-ill and children with learning difficulties.

But the air of excitement among the many children and spectators was tinged with sadness as truckers and parents reflected that the event's 26th year could be the last.

Police will no longer be able to provide motorcycle outriders after this year's event. While they will be able to use an alternative escort, the East Coast Truckers said they would not have the power to stop traffic or go through red lights. Police have pledged to continue to work with the organisers about alternative ways of running the event.

Terry Burden, from Great Yarmouth, applied for her eight-year-old son Samuel Burden, who has autism and epilepsy to take part in the convoy.

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'I wanted him to do it because it could be the last convoy,' she said. 'We want it to keep going year on year.'

'What they do for the kids is amazing. It is a day out for them. It is a day out for the parents.'

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Samuel said: 'I'm in truck 64 and I have told my friends to come and see me on the seafront. I am going to Pleasurewood Hills. It is a really good truck.'

Also taking part was Jane Norman's 15-year-old daughter Gisella who has Autism.

'The East Coast Truckers is an amazing organisation', said Mrs Norman. 'The people that do it are amazing people. It would be very sad if they were to stop it. It is something that is totally different.'

Barnham Broom driver Keith Ransome has been part of the East Coast Truckers for 23 years.

'These kids can gone on a train, they can go on a plane but they don't often get a chance to ride in a truck.

'For us it is just a question of being there and helping out and it gives the parents a day to do what they want to do.'

Norwich North MP Chole Smith said she had been 'blown away' by watching the truckers set off.

'What I would like to see is everyone continuing talking to find a way around it. If there are questions here that need to be taken to Westminster, I will take them.'

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