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Two Ball Beach Rally: Grove Cottage fundraisers ready for 1,300-mile journey of a lifetime through France, Italy and Spain – in a £450 Ford Fiesta!



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Bishop's Stortford businesses have rallied to support an epic road trip by two Grove Cottage fundraisers.

Allison Smith, 48, from Stortford, and friend Nicky Rooke, 44, are embarking on a drive of almost 1,300 miles through France, Italy and Spain in a £450 Ford Fiesta.

The 'Two Ball Beach Rally' starts in St Quentin, France, on July 22, and takes in the French Alps and Pyrenees before the finish line in Barcelona, Spain, on July 25.

Allison Smith and Nicky Rooke with their £450 Ford Fiesta
Allison Smith and Nicky Rooke with their £450 Ford Fiesta

Allison, who works at Grove Cottage, said: "I've seen first-hand how our special needs nursery has provided so many opportunities, not just for the children attending Grove Cottage but also the family. It's had such a positive impact and has literally changed the lives of some families.

"Some children may have struggled in previous settings or never left the family home due to the support not being available. This can cause some families/caregivers to feel neglected by the system and struggle to cope themselves. Seeing these children integrate within our nursery, gain confidence and self-esteem is amazing. Also, seeing the positive impact this then has on their family, as well as providing them with much-needed respite.

"Our nursery offers the children a safe and supportive environment and it can be a lifeline for some, not just for the child but for the whole family unit."

Allison Smith and Nicky Rooke with their £450 Ford Fiesta
Allison Smith and Nicky Rooke with their £450 Ford Fiesta

Nicky came up with the idea to compete in the rally. "I thought this experience would be tough to take on, something that would really test us from the start to finish," she said.

"I know how much Allison enjoys her job and what it means to her. We wanted to come up with a unique and challenging way of raising money and do something that hasn't been done before to really get people behind us."

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted previous attempts to take part.

Allison added: "I've never driven abroad so to complete this incredible challenge would be an achievement in itself, but to be able to raise a lot of money for this amazing local charity that means so much to me, would be fantastic."

The route for the Two Ball Beach Rally, which is actually just under 1,300 miles
The route for the Two Ball Beach Rally, which is actually just under 1,300 miles

The challenge has been supported by Laughing Bishops Comedy Club, Prestige Plasterers, Croucher and Needham Accountants, Fab Science and Forefront Signs.

Lloyd Richards, from Forefront Signs at the Southmill Trading Centre, said: "We're proud to support Nicky and Allison. What an exciting adventure and a great way to raise funds for such a worthwhile local charity."

Paddy Lennox, who runs Laughing Bishops Comedy Club at the United Reformed Church Hall in Water Lane, said: "I'm already a supporter of Grove Cottage and when I saw what Allison and Nicky were doing to raise money I was really keen to get involved and sponsor them.

Paddy Lennox runs Laughing Bishops Comedy Club in Bishop's Stortford
Paddy Lennox runs Laughing Bishops Comedy Club in Bishop's Stortford

"This challenge is huge and will hopefully be a lot of fun. I'm delighted I could help in some way, to not only support them but also a much-loved local charity."

The rising cost of petrol has put extra pressure on their funding effort. To help with sponsorship, email alandnickyrally@gmail.com. To donate, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alandnickyrally. As of June 27, they had raised £1,140 towards their £2,500 target.



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