Annie Chapman is the organiser of the Pink Ladies’ Tractor Road Run in Suffolk, an event which has raised more than £812,000 for Cancer Research UK’s breast cancer appeal. With more than 110 decorated tractors about to take part in this year’s event, she explains why the group keeps going
Since it began in 2004, the Pink Ladies’ Tractor Road Run has raised more than £812,000 in aid of Cancer Research UK’s breast cancer appeal – and this year the group hopes to edge ever closer to the one-million-pound mark. This year’s run will take place on Sunday July 3, with a convoy of more than 100 decorated tractors. Organised by Annie Chapman, the annual run will wind its way through south Norfolk and north Suffolk on a route which starts at Thorpe Abbotts airfield.
Annie says: ‘There is a great deal of excitement and anticipation from all the ladies taking part this year, especially the newcomers. There have been many messages from people saying they can’t wait to take part so it’s all very encouraging.
‘Everybody knows somebody affected by this cancer, it’s at the forefront of everyone’s mind. It’s very scary and sadly we have lost a lot of ladies over the years to breast cancer and that’s why we keep going.’
Joanne Grimmer who lives in Great Moulton, will be taking part in her 17th Pink Ladies’ Tractor Run. As well as joining in with the event she fundraises throughout the year, she says: ‘It’s quite a special one for us as a family this year as my daughter Ebony will now be joining us on her first run, alongside my mum who has done every one since the very start.
‘Ebony couldn’t wait to get on a tractor as she’s been marshalling and fundraising for years by holding bake sales and quizzes. This year we’ve had a bingo night that raised over £1,300 and on July 30 we hold our annual dog show in Great Moulton which is always a success!
‘The reason behind our motivation is that cancer is relentless, and everyone is affected by it. We’ve lost ladies who have done the run previously and this is why we can’t stop raising awareness and money for Cancer Research UK’s breast cancer appeal. It’s such a unique event and I think that’s why we are so lucky to get the support that we do.’
This year about a quarter of the ladies taking part will be new to the event, including Heather Babb who has already started fundraising by hosting a cake stall on Diss market and later this month she will be organising a car boot sale in Diss.
She says: ‘Like many women who take part in this amazing event, I have been visited by an uninvited guest – cancer. It’s not until it touches one’s life in one way or another, be it family, friends or yourself, that you realise the impact that it has on your life.
‘I found a lump in my breast, got it checked, diagnosed, and then planned the next stages with the consultant. Three days before Christmas day he had the unenviable task of advising me that I had an aggressive form of breast cancer. No tears, no panic, just a focus on treatment. I opted to have my breast removed as I didn’t want to keep going back for more lumpectomies and radio therapy unless I really had to. Apparently, my choice was right as there were other cells that were developing into cancer.
‘Raising funds for Cancer Research can only be a good thing, and while doing something good it’s nice to have fun doing it with like-minded people. What could be more fun than driving a tractor decorated in everything and anything pink and then travelling through the beautiful Norfolk countryside?
‘I have followed the Pink Ladies Tractor Run for a number of years and have the greatest respect for Annie Chapman for organising this; the ladies taking part; the local farmers (and others) who kindly let us crazy women loose on their tractors; after all these are their working tools and blooming expensive too; and last but not least all those kind people who donate to the cause, by sponsoring us in the many and innovative ways that we come up with.
‘I’m proud to be joining the Pink Ladies this year and I hope by doing so I can make a positive contribution to finding a cure for cancer.’
Last year, the event returned after the 2020 event was cancelled: 112 tractors took place and were greeted by thousands of supporters who had turned out along the route. £78,082, smashing through £0.75million barrier.
Annie says: ‘As with any event of this size it cannot be achieved without the support of many people. I would like to express my thanks to all tractor owners, landowners, the many marshals, collecting ladies and anyone else who helps to make this event happen, it’s a large team effort!’
Organisers of the Pink Ladies’ Tractor Road Run are also in the process of collecting stories from participants, marshals, sponsors and supporters to produce a new book documenting the rise of the iconic event. To send in your recollections of the event to be added to the book, including any photos, please email them to email@example.com or send to Boundary Farm, Garlic Street, Pulham St. Mary, Diss, IP21 4RL. To find out more about the Pink Ladies’ Tractor Run please visit www.ladiestractorroadrun.co.uk
The Pink Ladies’ Tractor Road Run starts at Thorpe Abbotts airfield before heading through Thorpe Abbotts, Brockdish and Upper Weybread, arriving in Harleston at about 12.30pm, before stopping for lunch between 1pm and 3pm at Gawdy Hall Meadow, Redenhall. The route back to Thorpe Abbotts airfield heads through Pulham St. Mary, Rushall, Langmere Green and back to the airfield.
Featured image: Pink Ladies’ Tractor Road Run organiser Annie Chapman. Picture Credit: Jonathan Slack