Charity challenge mile-munching mission for Mazda

Tony and Carolyn Homewood drove a Mazda MX-5 to Monaco and back in four days for the Stroke Associat

Tony and Carolyn Homewood drove a Mazda MX-5 to Monaco and back in four days for the Stroke Association. - Credit: supplied

Four days, eight countries, 2,426 miles – it was more of a lorry drivers' holiday than a busmen's holiday when Tony and Carolyn Homewood embarked on a charity drive.

The Norwich couple, who both drive 7.5-tonne lorries for Royal Mail, joined four other teams from Royal Mail's south-east region driving to Monaco and back to raise money for the Stroke Association, its chosen charity this year.

Setting off from Chelmsford Mail Centre, the first day saw the five cars travel to St Etienne in France – a total of 634 miles.

Day two took them on a 589-mile drive from France, through Monaco and on to Castelnuovo Scrivia, south of Milan.

On the third day they tackled the twists and turns of the Stelvio Pass in northern Italy, one of the highest and most dramatic mountain passes in the Alps, rising to 2,757 metres, which the BBC Top Gear team voted the best driving road in the world in 2008. It took them on to Switzerland with the 414-mile trip ending at Stuttgart in Germany.


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And then on the fourth, and final, day they travelled 580 miles through Luxembourg, Belgium and France befopre arriving back in England.

And just to make it more challenging the teams had to buy their cars for no more than £500 although they could spend money making sure they were roadworthy and prepared for the journey.

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Mr and Mrs Homewood, both Mazda MX-5 owners and members of the Norfolk Fives owners' club, took his 77,000-mile 1999 1.8-litre Mark II on the trip, calling themselves the Norfolk Turkeys, and were joined by an MG-F, Citroen Picasso, Vauxhall Zafira and Peugeot 306 Cabriolet.

With sponsorship on the car and support from Wrights Mazda, Fusion, NDB Autos, Unique Signs and the Coach and Horses pub in Norwich, and other pledges they hope to top £2,000 for the Stroke Association on their own towards the teams' £10,000 fund-raising target.

Mr Homewood said the weather over the bank holiday weekend held fine for them until they were 80 miles from Calais on the final day they were greeted with pouring rain but none of the cars broke down or even had a puncture.

'We did get the brakes very hot coming down the Stelvio Pass because we were keeping up with motorbikes but the brakes would not take any more.'

His wife added: 'It was an experience that surpassed itself. The roads are just fantastic.'

While the couple shared the driving, after one little directional mishap they decided that Mrs Homewood was the better navigator.

But they enjoyed the whole experience so much that they are already looking into a driving holiday on the Continent next year.

'It has given use the buzz to do a longer trip,' she said. 'You found so many places you want to visit for longer.'

If anyone would like to add to their total for the Stroke Association pledges can still be made at www.sponsorme.co.uk/rebeccahalstead/rm-euro-challenge.aspx

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