Rally clocks up miles of smiles in aid of Alexandra Sales Trust

What the garden looked like before
PEAK PERFORMANCE Most of the 'bangers’ had problems negotiating the Alps

The charity, based in Borough Green, was set up in memory of 17-year-old Alexandra, who died in 2014 of Metastatic Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancer.

The trust aims to raise ‘smile money’ in order to donate gifts and experiences to young people being treated for cancer.

Al’s Miles for Smiles European Rally saw 27 drivers in 11 cars travel through six countries over seven days.

They covered hundreds of miles each day without using any motorways – in cars that cost £500 or less.

The itinerary went from Borough Green to Metz in France, Zurich, Turin, Nice via Monaco, Clermont-Ferrand, Rouen and back to England.

Georgina Sales, Alexandra’s oldest sister, said: “We do crazy events every year – and one large fundraising event. It was very well organised.

“But that was the challenge, to get from one city to another. There were a few overheated engines and brakes, but we’ve raised lots of money.”

One of the drivers was James Hughes, who last year performed a ‘JOGLE’ on behalf of the charity, running 812.82 miles – or the distance from John O’Groats to Land’s End – without leaving Tonbridge.

Of his latest venture he said: “I’ve never done any other challenge like it before, it was exhilarating but exhausting.

“We drove on some of the best roads that I’ve ever driven on and through some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe. But we weren’t using motorways so it normally took about ten hours a day to cover the distance. When you do that for seven days in a row, it gets pretty tiring.”

His 1998 Honda Civic was one of the few cars that did not develop any faults. He said: “There were minor mechanical problems for most teams along the way, especially with engines and brakes overheating when going through the Swiss Alps.

“But good old Rhonda the Honda was an absolute dream. For a car worth well under £500, she didn’t have a single issue. That’s more down to luck than judgement, I think.”

For more information, visit thealexandrasalestrust.co.uk

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