The REAL Rally, now named The AutoRaise REAL Rally, this year took the participants up to Scotland, following previous years in Europe and last year in Wales.
The entry criteria for the charity rally stipulates that vehicles must be bought for under £1,000 and each team must raise a minimum of £500 for the charity…challenge accepted!
This is the first time AW Repair Group have joined the rally, however after seeing previous years decided we would accept the challenge and join in to raise funds for the industry charity addressing the skills shortage in the body repair industry, AutoRaise.
After entering two teams, we wanted the cars to be quirky, reliable and fun… after-all we had a 604-mile round trip to complete! Two Toyota Celica’s later and £750 spent on each car, challenge one done & our work was underway to make them rally ready.
Challenge two, raising £500 per team. A huge thank you to our sponsors, PPG Refinish UK, Perrys Motors, Car-O-Liner, Upol UK, Junair Spraybooths, AGM Services & JD Garage Equipment, we raised £2,500 for the charity!
Our apprentices who are following the multi-skilled repair technician programme, which was trailblazed by AutoRaise worked on the cars, ensuring all the mechanical aspects were spot on and prepping and painting the vehicles, under the watchful eye of their mentors. Two slightly different paint designs and two very eye-catching colours later gave us an outstanding finish (and no, they haven’t been wrapped). It was great to see the passion and enthusiasm of our apprentices who were working on the cars, as they were coming on the rally with us. As the only apprentices who were on the rally, they felt extremely proud to have been part of creating the cars great appearance and being able to enjoy the rally and experience what all of the other teams had done.
Cars complete, we set off…
Tuesday 24th June
Team one left a very wet & dreary head office in Sleaford and took off to meet team two at our site in Nottingham. Arriving in an even wetter Nottingham, we got together and headed for the M1, to begin our journey up North to pre-rally meeting point in Durham.
The journey was… interesting!
The cars were perfect, but the weather, not so much. Fog lights illuminated we carried on regardless and made the 150+ mile trip in our two 16+ year old Toyota Celica’s.
Pulling into the Ramside Hotel & Spa in Durham we felt a little like the odd ones out, in our bright Orange & Blue Celica’s.
Not wanting to miss a moment of the culture we jumped back in the cars a few hours later and headed into Durham.
Wednesday 25th June
Opening the curtains, I expected much the same weather as the previous day, however was pleasantly surprised when I was met with slightly better weather and just light drizzle!
Dressed in our fancy dress, two Knights due to team name AW Nottingham Knights (and our MD being named as 2018 Industry Knight by ABP Club) and two as pilots as a nod to Lincolnshire HQ’s aviation roots.
With BBC Look North filming the event our two apprentices were quickly being quizzed and filmed in their car – watch the footage on our YouTube channel, click here.
9:30am we were all on our way to the morning meeting point, Tower Knowe Visitor Centre. We entered Kielder Forster and the roads were brilliant, giving our Celica’s a chance to stretch their legs, plus the sun was shining – why had we all been so worried?!
Pulling into Tower Knowe Visitor Centre we were greeted by some stunning views and of course 70+ other rally cars!
Stopping only once at the Scottish Borders for some photos & a could not miss opportunity to add an extra sticker to the Scottish Border sign, two and a half hours later, great driving roads and glorious weather we arrived at our next stop- Edinburgh Zoo.
On arrival we were challenged to get the best selfie with an animal in the zoo, see our entry… some friendly Lemurs made our job much easier!
Clearly taking this challenge extremely seriously, by the time we’d exited the zoo we were about the last of the rally cars left.
Onwards for the final 3 miles we made it into Edinburgh.
The evening meet up point was SKYbar Edinburgh, the views of Edinburgh Castle in the sun were amazing & the photos really don’t do it justice.
Two awards were presented at the SKYbar, one to the best dressed team: well done to ‘Celts on Tour’ (Think we’re all still trying to get Mark Bull’s costume out of our minds) and well done to ‘Gemini Rotherham – Thailand’ for winning best dressed car.
Thursday 26th June
The last day of the rally…
We left Edinburgh and made our way to Leith Docks for the morning meet-up point. The sun again was shining and the views of the harbour were stunning, of course we couldn’t miss a photo op with the backdrop and got many honks & sirens by passing rallyers when we pulled off the main road to get some pics.
Onwards to Peebles for the final stop, arriving at 12.30 with lunch being served outside, again with spectacular views over the countryside before being split into our teams for an afternoon activity.
On offer was; Highland Games, Brewery Tour & Afternoon tea.
We opted for the Brewery Tour. On entering the nano brewery we met the brewer, learned about the different hops & barley’s, had a few samples & were gifted a bottle.
Following the tour we had the chance to watch the other teams participating in the Highland Games & reflect on the last few days we’d had.
Being the last night, a Gala Dinner was held and a few more awards presented.
The best selfie with an animal was awarded to me! (See entry above) thanks Lemurs!
The Epic Fail was awarded to the same team, third time in a row, ‘The Tossers’ for arriving in Peebles expecting to go back to Edinburgh and having not checked out or brought any of their luggage… back to Edinburgh they went!
The highest fundraiser within Gemini was announced as Rotherham and the highest fundraiser outside Gemini with a staggering £5,500 was ‘The Proclaimers’ Rye Street Group- well done guys!
With a few drinks down our necks the rodeo bull in the gardens looking appealing, I, of course had to have a go, whilst it felt like I was on there an eternity (after eventually making it on) it turns out I only managed 20 seconds!
It has been a brilliant trip, organised extremely well & everyone has had a grin since Tuesday, the pre-rally evening.
A huge thank you to Bob, Morag, Emelia & the support team for the AutoRaise REAL Rally for the fantastic job they have done organising such a great event. It’s not easy arranging such a sizable event (and trying to control us rowdy lot) however, everything ran so smoothly & everyone I’ve spoken to have absolutely loved it! 👏
CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE BBC LOOK NORTH FOOTAGE OF THE STARTING GRID OF THE RALLY
Thanks again guys,