Photo gallery: East Coast Truckers' Children's Convoy
PUBLISHED: 14:00 25 August 2013 | UPDATED: 14:00 25 August 2013
(C) Archant Norfolk 2013
It was a stirring tribute from the great East Anglian public that made it an extra special day for the youngsters at the heart of East Coast Truckers' children's convoy.
From County Hall in Norwich to Lowestoft, spectators lined the roads, hung over bridges and got out of their cars to cheer and wave as the 82 gleaming trucks rumbled past amid a cacophony of klaxons.
The smiles on the children’s faces - one to each truck - showed what it meant to them to be the centre of attention for one day.
The five to 16-year-olds, all disabled or from an under-privileged background, were to be treated to an action-packed afternoon at Lowestoft’s Pleasurewood Hills attraction park followed by a tea party paid for and prepared by fundraisers from Halvergate.
Derek Thorndyke, the event’s planning manager, said the convoy had expanded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams since a group of local truckers organised the very first outing for a school for children with special needs.
He said: “The public has really taken it to their hearts. It has become a major tourist attraction and the word has spread so far that we have got drivers coming from Manchester and Birmingham to take part.”
East Coast Truckers had become a charity organising days out for children throughout the year from zoo trips to stockcar racing.
“We have now even got two caravans at California Cliffs so we can offer holidays to families with special needs,” he said.
Mr Thorndyke said they relied on the generosity of loyal fundraisers both on the day of the convoy and throughout the year.
“We have collection buckets in pubs and collectors out on the route. One lady in Blofield has been doing it every year,” he said.
He was today manning a display with a truck on Yarmouth seafront and taking bids for a miniature truck model made by an employee of water heater firm Heatrae Sadia in Norwich.
Charity president Sheila Sarsby praised the support they had from the whole community from police to local businesses, including Smith’s Coaches in Blofield which provided transport for families behind the trucks.