The Pink Car Rally and The Little Princess Trust

PUBLISHED: 10:52 06 January 2011 | UPDATED: 17:59 20 February 2013

Lauren Sharp, Andrew Potter, Helen Green and Chelsea Singleton with Cherry Whittaker and Natasha Stead at Cheltenham Racecourse

Lauren Sharp, Andrew Potter, Helen Green and Chelsea Singleton with Cherry Whittaker and Natasha Stead at Cheltenham Racecourse

A pink car always gets more than just a passing glance, with two or three in a row warranting a definite stare... So imagine the response to a whole convoy. When 36 pink cars hit the roads of Hereford for the third Pink Car Rally all heads turned

Any colour as long as it is pink

By Debbie Graham, pictures by Anna Lythgoe

A pink car always gets more than just a passing glance, with two or three in a row warranting a definite stare So imagine the response to a whole convoy. When 36 pink cars hit the roads of Hereford for the third Pink Car Rally all heads turned.

I think we brightened everybodys morning in Hereford, says Vanessa Chapman, self-confessed pink princess and owner of a pink Honda Jazz called Squeak. It just looked so amazing, people stopped by the side of the road and they were like pink car, pink car oh my goodness, there are so many pink cars. And we are all hanging out the car windows, tooting, and waving and smiling at everyone.

Sali Gray, loving owner of a pink convertible Nissan Micra, is the brains behind this pink extravaganza/carnival/out-and-out pink fest. She was looking for ways to raise funds for the Hereford-based charity, Little Princess Trust that provides wigs for children who suffer with cancer. I had the pink car and little girls wave at me all the time and big girls scream, so it has an effect on people, says Sali, who lives in Gloucestershire. I just thought if we could multiply this by six, 10, 15 or 50 times what effect would that have on people?

The idea took hold and the first rally took place in 2008, attracting 15 cars, and although Sali confesses: I knew nothing about car rallies and I didnt have a clue really, she did have a strategy.

In the beginning I decided it would be a five-year plan. Each rally would stop at Hereford Hospital because the charity is Hereford-based and we would go to a different childrens hospital each year.

Pink car owners have been enthusiastically supportive. Vanessa says: My friend spotted the flyer for the rally last year and she rang me up and said youll never guess what you can take part in, and that was it and it has been something huge in my life ever since.

Pink cars are far from common, yet their owners are definitely one of a kind. Proud ladies is how Emma Horsey from Napton in Warwickshire describes them (she doesnt think there are many men owners!)
We love our pink cars (she has a pink Smart Roadster). They are ours and they are special, it doesnt matter where you go they
always grab attention.

As the countdown to the off began in Hereford Hospitals car park for this years event the mood was infectious, despite the rain, as participants got ready and weighed up each others outfits in the unofficial dress competition.

There is a lot of banter and we see who can wear the most pink, says Emma. I liked the boys in their bikinis and oh, there was one man in Speedos, she laughs. Perhaps not the best clothes for the rain but at least they did not have to worry about pink streaks from their hastily-dyed pink hair, as one lady did.

She took shelter in the hospitality cafeteria because she thought she was just going to have pink streaks all over her, laughs Sali.

Cars too were proudly dressed in their Sunday pink best with bows, ribbons and balloons adorning their bodywork.

Star of the show and grabbing a lot of the attention was a big, pink, National Express coach specially customised for the occasion; the result of Sali winning the National Express Bling My Coach competition.

So complete with dressed-up passengers it set off, accompanied by the line of pink cars and their mad, loud and very pink drivers and companions, headed by Sali and her Micra.

Their destination was Oxford Childrens Hospital about 75 miles west and as the long caravan of pink vehicles winded its way through the English countryside, passers-by whooped and waved and added their support.

We stopped in several lay-bys and people were pulling over to take photographs of us and filming us, says Vanessa. We all had face-ache by the end of it from grinning so much and smiling at everyone.

Top points, though, must go to a strawberry producer in a lay-by on
the A40. As we drove into the lay-by there was what looked like a snack van so people rushed to this van thinking they could get some food but she actually sold strawberries, laughs Sali. So there was this line of pink people carrying trays of strawberries.

But the nice thing was when the owner realised what the event was about and where they were heading she said she would donate some trays of strawberries if somebody could nip back to her farm and see her husband. Hence, when they arrived at the Childrens Hospital the drivers were armed with strawberries for the waiting children.

Its a really good day. Its a really nice opportunity to meet a lot of other people who are all raising money for a really, really good cause, because lets not forget what it is all about, says Emma.

Jockey and charity vice president Richard Johnson, from Pembridge, agrees: When the children get ill the charity is a great support. They have made a big difference to children being able to cope with the disease. Now I have got a daughter of my own it just hits home how something like that would affect the whole family, not just the child.

This event makes people realise the need for the children to be helped and its great to bring the profile of the charity forward as well as being a lot of fun at the same time.

So could he be persuaded to don a pink outfit and ride in a pink car? Once I have stopped racing round the country riding horses. Its a fantastic job they have been doing.

And Heidi Barrington of Hereford, whose 12-year-old daughter Samantha was helped by the Little Princess Trust says: It is great. They have helped my Samantha a lot. When she received her wig, it gave her the confidence to go out again, as the hair was so much like her own. I hope they continue to help other children.

Asked why she chose that particular charity to support Salis answer is simple: Do you have children? Imagine if they lost their hair?
That's why.

And with the special fifth year rally looming in 2012 plans are well underway for one to remember.

Its the big one, says Sali and reveals it will be a trip the length of the country, from John OGroats to Lands End. If I can get the National Express to do another coach for that one it would be fabulous, she says.
I cant wait, I am going to have a different wig for every day; its going to be amazing, says Vanessa.

For more information or if you have a pink car and want to take part in next Septembers rally, which will run from Hereford to South Wales, tel: 01452 618899.
www.pink-car-rally.com


The Little Princess Trust


This Hereford-based charity provides, free of charge, real hair wigs for children who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment and was set up in the memory of Hannah Tarplee, a Hereford Cathedral Junior School pupil who died at the age of five.

The Trust has helped more than 500 children nationwide since its inception in 2006.
It relies on the efforts of many volunteers and fundraisers who obtain donations for the Trust through the organisation of events. These events can be as large as The Pink Car Rally or as small, but equally important, as sponsored hair cuts.

The Little Princess Trust vice presidents include TV presenter Gail Porter; journalist, author
and broadcaster Quentin Letts; jockey Richard Johnson; and former SAS soldier turned
TV presenter and author, Chris Ryan.

For more information about the Trust's work see www.littleprincesses.org.uk.
For information regarding fundraising tel: 0845 094 2169.
For information regarding wigs tel: 0845 094 4509.

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