Charity drive relay sets record goal

Learner drivers and their instructors set off from Blackpool Tower this morning on the latest leg of the Big Learner Relay for Children in Need.'Ready for the off.  PIC BY ROB LOCK'8-11-2015
Learner drivers and their instructors set off from Blackpool Tower this morning on the latest leg of the Big Learner Relay for Children in Need.'Ready for the off. PIC BY ROB LOCK'8-11-2015
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Learner drivers and their instructors gathered at Blackpool Tower as part of a massive nation-wide relay to raise money for Children In Need.

The ‘Big Learner Relay’ sees more than 200 drivers from all across the UK take on a 3,000 mile race across the country in cars decorated with colourful spots to match the eyepatch of Children In Need mascot Pudsey Bear.

The sponsored relay, which began at Lisburn in Northern Ireland last week, travelled from Blackpool Promenade to Preston Technology Park on Sunday and is set to finish at the Children In Need studio in London on Friday.

Leading the Blackpool leg was Driving Force driver training instructor Tracy Dunsire, 47, and learner driver Chelsea Jewitt, 19.

Miss Dunsire said: “I wanted to get involved because Children In Need is such a great cause and I wanted to help bring something different to Blackpool – especially with all the negative publicity we have had lately.

“It was an amazing event. We even had our own Pudsey Bear on top of the car. He’s travelling the whole 3,000 miles – luckily he gets a wash at the end of the day so he stays fresh.

“He even wore a poppy on the day to commemorate Remembrance Day.”

The annual Big Learner Relay began in November 2014, when 135 drivers raised more than £65,500 for needy children both in the UK and overseas.

Miss Dunsire said: “This year we’re hoping to raise more than £85,000 altogether – that’s a good boost.

“I’ve already raised about £400 from people sponsoring the event. We’re hoping to get about £5,000 from Blackpool alone by the end of the week.

“I know how difficult it is for social workers to do their job and how hard it is for children in care to smile and eat well and get the support that they need.

“I hope the money we raise will put a smile on the children’s’ faces and help make even just one day happier for them.”

Now, she says, the relay will makes its way to Swindon’s infamous ‘Magic Roundabout’ – five mini-roundabouts surrounding a large central roundabout.

Miss Dunsire said: “It makes Bispham roundabout look like a children’s play area. I hope the learner drivers will be able to go around it.”

Learner driver Chelsea Jewitt, who lives in South Shore, drove the leading vehicle from Blackpool Tower.

She said: “I got involved with the event because Tracy helped me a lot with my driving and I thought it was a good idea to help her back while also raising money for Children in Need.

“I hope we can bring the relay back to Blackpool next year.”

People can donate to the Big Learner Relay’s Children In Need fund online at www.biglearnerrelay.co.uk.