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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

National Highways inspector casts an eye over Europe’s roads during charity fundraiser

Bristol man Simon Williams is aiming to raise money for research into Alzheimer’s and dementia after completing this year’s Crumball Rally across the roads of Europe.

The Crumball Rally annually tasks participants to purchase a roadworthy car under £200, paint it and drive it from Reims in France, through Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria and Italy before the final leg from Venice to Nice, via Monte Carlo.

Simon, a structures inspector for National Highways, and Bristol friend Ian Clarke completed the rally over the weekend, and at the end of the 1,500-mile event bequeathed their 17-year-old Ford Focus to Nice resident and former Gendarme Patrice Corporon.

Caption: James Bond-attired Simon Williams (right) and Ian Clarke before setting off, and below, handing over their car to Patrice Corporon

The 30th Crumball Rally event, To Drive Another Day, was James Bond-themed, and Simon and Ian certainly cut a dash across Europe as Jaws and Oddjob respectively. And on day two the pair won the Q Gadgets section after trawling a supermarket to fashion up a jet pack.

Simon said: “It was quite an undertaking, we had to rebuild the car after a power steering pump failure, to get it through the MOT, but the experience was hugely enjoyable and hopefully we can raise a good amount of money for the Alzheimer's Society charity.

“We took a number of tools with us, but we were glad we could deliver the car to the finish line and to Patrice. We lost the speedometer, but could stick to the speed limits via GPS on our phones, and the air con reduced to 10%, but other than that we got there.

“Rather than scrap the vehicle, we thought it would be a good idea to upcycle it. We posted it on Freecycle before heading out, and were delighted that Patrice came forward to reuse the car on his commute to Nice – hopefully for a good few years to come.”

Simon travels hundreds of miles each year across the National Highways road network in the South West and is now back on the region’s roads to inspect structures such as bridges, culverts, signage, gantries and retaining walls.

He added: “It was a truly amazing experience, we covered 1,573 miles and spent over 32 hours driving, in sun and a snowstorm, and got to drive the Monaco Grand Prix circuit, at 15mph.

“And from my perspective, it was interesting to some amazing engineering on Europe’s roads, including the tunnels and cantilever snow canopies in Austria and Switzerland.”

In the meantime, the two Bristol Bears rugby fans are hoping to boost their JustGiving donations to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Simon added: “Alzheimer’s and dementia has affected the life of some of our family members so we felt this was a great opportunity to support them.

“We’ve raised nearly £300 so far and hoping we can add to that in the coming weeks and months for such a worthwhile charity.”

Anyone wishing to add to the fundraising effort can do so at the intrepid duo’s JustGiving page.

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