Tractor run from Thame pulls in £6,500 for air ambulance charity

Granger Challis and Jesse Smith. Picture: Greenfields Imaging
Granger Challis and Jesse Smith. Picture: Greenfields Imaging

Almost 80 vehicles joined a fundraising tractor run from Thame which has raised £6,500 for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance.

Escorted by Thames Valley Police, the 79 vehicles of all shapes and sizes left the town at 10.30am on Christmas Eve, running down the High Street to Chinnor, visiting Aston Rowant, Postcombe and Tetsworth before returning to town.

Thame tractor run. Picture: Greenfields Imaging

Thame tractor run. Picture: Greenfields Imaging

The run began and finished at the yard of David Einig Contracting Ltd, where a bumper raffle was held afterwards along with cakes, tea and coffee served.

The event was organised by Jesse Smith, founder of a Facebook group called AgriSocial, which has almost 3,500 members, with 1,000 followers on Instagram and Twitter, connecting the farming community all over the world.

Jesse said a friend, Granger Challis, suggested running the event for the air ambulance. Jesse added: “I was a bit hesitant as I had never organised anything like this before and on this scale but after a bit of thinking I thought that I would give it a shot and go ahead and organise it as a AgriSocial event.”

Jesse won generous support for the raffle from companies such as Farol Ltd, Lister Wilder, George Browns and K Two, and set a target to raise of £500.

Drivers briefing at Thame tractor run. Picture: Greenfields Imaging

Drivers briefing at Thame tractor run. Picture: Greenfields Imaging

Jesse said he only expected around 20 vehicles to turn up for the event, but was pleasantly shocked at the support shown.

He said: “At 9am on the day we already had nearly 25 tractors and lorries arrive.

When the time came to set off on the route set, there was 79 vehicles lined up ready to pull out. We had Thames Valley Police escorting from front and rear. When we reached Thame High Street, there were nearly 2,500 people filling both sides of the road eagerly waiting to witness the charity event drive through.”

Donation buckets were filled as the tractor run made its way along the route, returning to Thame at around 12.30pm.

Thame tractor run. Picture: Greenfields Imaging

Thame tractor run. Picture: Greenfields Imaging

The drivers and supporters enjoyed cakes and refreshments served by Jesse’s partner Michelle Howie and friends, with Ruth Dunkin from the charity also helping with the raffle sales.

The event and raffle raised £2,808.30, with matched funds from Farol Ltd taking it to £5,616.60, and the total has now risen to £6,500.

Jesse added: “Since the days after the event I have received over 30 messages from people asking me to do the tractor run again next year which will definitely go ahead. As the almost sole organiser, I am truly thankful for everyone who came along and donated to this amazing charity, which isn’t government funded.

“I am so proud of the work the Thames Valley Air Ambulance does for the community, every day of the week, 365 days a year. It really means a lot to the farming community and also everyone else. Thank you very much.”

Tractor run from Thame. Picture: Michael's Agri Photography

Tractor run from Thame. Picture: Michael's Agri Photography

Visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/agrisocial

Tractor run from Thame. Picture: Michael's Agri Photography

Tractor run from Thame. Picture: Michael's Agri Photography

Tractor run from Thame. Picture: Michael's Agri Photography

Tractor run from Thame. Picture: Michael's Agri Photography