Those living in rural parts of the country will be no stranger to a Tractor Run – this I can be certain of – for the rest of the population however I hope to enlighten you to a laid back tradition that brings the rural community together, usually in the name of charity.
After a brief chat to Richard Harrison at the recent TSCC autotest [read report from that event here] I got the low-down on a classic car run that is due to happen on Friday 5th August but ahead of that he mentioned a tractor run that I wanted to attend.
This run took place on Saturday afternoon (22nd July) in the Co. Down village of Carrowdore and was organised by James Brown, a member of the organising committee at Carrowdore & Ballyfrenis Presbyterian Church who hosted the event and with the help of some of the congregation as well as the local community, the run is now close to its tenth year running.
Those working in agriculture are no stranger to long hours, there is no such thing as a nine-to-five and arguably farming is a 24hr operation 365 days a year and as such down-time and time to catch up with friends, family and neighbours is hard come-by.
Tractor runs provide a great base for the rural community to come together over a few hours, get their vintage machinery out to blow the cobwebs off or simply a good excuse to get their modern workhorse washed and polished for a change of scenery.
Scenery that was promised in abundance and despite the horrible weather that closed-in just before the start of the run, around 50 tractors registered. As such – close to 80 people were to take part as many drivers had have wives and children in the cabs or even bring the extended family and friends aboard a trailer.
They left the Church grounds in Carrowdore on a route that would see the procession of heavy machinery wind its way along some glorious B-roads and snake its way cross-country via lanes, yards and fields of neighbouring farms.
The highlight for many who had come along to spectate, was the cavalcade travelling parallel to the Irish Sea with Millisle beach as a backdrop before it pulled off the main road and yet again worked its way via some meandering lanes before rejoining something resembling a road again.
After around 90 minutes the run was complete and everyone arrived back to the Church hall for tea, sandwiches, sausage rolls and plenty of craic. It was at this point that I got to catch up with Sarah Stewart from the nominated charity set to gain from the tractor run.
Representing the Christian charity ‘Kids4School’ – Sarah explained that the charity raises money for their schooling efforts in Tanzania, Africa where just £39/yr will send a child to school for a full year.
Although schooling is free, many families can’t afford a uniform (which is compulsory), nor the small fee’s involved and as such kids without the funds for a basic education will get a uniform and a pair of shoes enabling them to attend school.
Their work doesn’t stop there however and included for kids on the scheme is the guarantee that the child will get one warm meal a day in school, a meal they may not get otherwise and on top of this – Kids4School have put 18 water tanks in place with plans in place for a further 23 tanks to provide clean, fresh water for the local communities.
The tractor run was specifically in aid of funding the next water tank and once that is complete further money will be put towards an academy that is being developed on an 18 acre site – a site given to the charity by the locals as a thank you for the continuing work they are doing within the African region.
A grand total of £626 was raised for Kids4School and everyone seemed to have a good night!