Over the past 10 days our managing director, Colin, has been driving across Europe in a car that has most definitely seen better days than these! He’s been taking part in The Dumball, a rally of rickety old motors that have been dressed up to the nines, ready to take on some of the toughest and most challenging roads in the world.
There may have been motoring malfunctions and breakdowns along the way, but it was all worth it in the end as this clapped out convoy travelled across the continent from Margate to Corfu to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust.
What exactly is The Dumball Rally?
The Dumball is a road trip like no other but it’s by no means a holiday! It’s a weeklong, cross-continent adventure and a challenge that sees a fleet of not-quite-falling-apart cars drive thousands of miles through a multitude of different countries.
The first part of the challenge that the teams will face is finding a car for less than £500 which is not only roadworthy, but Dumball worthy too. Then, they’ll dress it up, as well as themselves, and drive it from the start of the route, all the way to the end over 2,000 miles across Europe, hoping for only minor mechanical mishaps along the way! As well as all that, just to keep it interesting, they’ll need to complete a series of daily challenges with the help of other teams, a few locals and a little bit of luck.
Over the last 12 years, the fancy dress fleet has driven from Amsterdam to Athens, Brussels to Istanbul and even taken on the deserts of Northern India. In fact, since it began in 2006, the Dumball has covered over 11,500 miles across Europe, Asia and Russia.
Including a parent bed within a hospital room also means that nurses don’t have to worry about moving bulky items of furniture around to squeeze temporary beds into spaces which may not be big enough. This means a less chaotic ward which will improve the experience of other patients too.
An extraordinary challenge for an extraordinary cause
While the first edition of The Dumball in 2006 was just for fun, since 2007 the event has been putting the fun back into fundraising and raising money for Teenage Cancer Trust. As the rally has been getting bigger and better every year, so has the amount of money being raised and at the start of this year’s continental adventure, the total since fundraising began was a huge £825,000. This year, they surpassed the £1m mark.
Colin joined the Dumball in its second edition in 2007 along with his son Adam. Whilst on the rally Adams body was beginning to release and not long after they returned from Istanbul they were given the news that Adam was not going to win his battle with Leukaemia. Being on the Dumball gave them the opportunity to create extraordinary memories while taking on an extraordinary challenge for an extraordinary cause. It also gave Adam the chance to travel and see the world, something that he had wanted to do before his diagnosis meant that plans had to be put on hold.
The organisers of the Dumball were so impressed by Adam’s attitude to life that they decided to repeat the rally and Colin has taken up the challenge each year to honour his son’s memory and to raise funds for Teenage Cancer Trust who provided Adam with invaluable support throughout his battle with leukaemia.
This year’s adventure to Corfu
This year the convoy headed from Margate to Corfu, crossing some of the toughest terrain in Europe along the way and through a whole host of countries including Switzerland, Croatia and Kosovo before finally travelling through Albania and onwards into Greece.
The first stop was France where the fun really began, with the first of the daily challenges taking place: form a human pyramid and find a local willing to get on top!
From France, the rally pushed forward covering an impressive 550 miles in one day, continuing their journey through the French Alps before driving through Switzerland, Lichenstein, Austria, Germany and northern Italy.
After Italy, the squadrons headed east. The next destination on their grand tour of the continent was Croatia, followed by Bosnia and then, after an overnight stop, to Montenegro.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing along the way though. Colin’s car was stopped at the Bosnian border, with the guards being reluctant to accept the temporary vehicle documents that they had with them. With their Dumball adventure hanging in the balance and much negotiating, eventually they were allowed to pass through. To avoid the same issue later when they reached the border of Montenegro, they arranged for someone to fly out with the real documentation (that arrived the day after they left Margate) and delayed their journey while they waited for him to arrive in Sarajevo; that’s real Dumballing!
After reaching Montenegro, the route continued over the mountains of Kosovo and then into Albania, the last stop before Greece where they encountered a few bumps along the way…quite literally, thanks to a lack of tarmac!
But then, with the bumpy roads behind them, the Dumball finally reached its destination country of Greece. 10 days and 11 countries after leaving Margate, 145 cars made the ferry crossing to the island of Corfu, ready to show the locals how to party and to find out how much they’d raised for Teenage Cancer Trust since their journey began.
Colin’s team made it to Corfu along a bottle of Corona for Adam, his favourite beer, and a rose that had been brought all the way from Margate.
Over the course of this year’s 10 day trip across the continent, The Dumball Rally managed to add to the totals from previous years and surpass £1m in money raised for Teenage Cancer Trust.
The funds will help them to continue the invaluable work that they do to help young people facing cancer, providing specialist staff and building dedicated places within hospitals that are designed to allow young patients to feel like young people again and giving them spaces that support them through their treatment.
So, with this year’s event over, the coveted monkey-carved-from -a-coconut trophy awarded to the most courageous team and each of the Dumballers on their way home the only question left is: where next?
It’s not too late to donate, if you want to help Colin and Dumball raise even more money to help young people with cancer, you can through their JustGiving page, which can be found here.
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