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Chugging for charity – Mary's epic tractor first

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 01, 2012

  • Mary Phillips aged 72 drove form John o'Groats to Land's End on her Field Marshall series 3a 1953 model which covered 957 miles in 17 days. Left, Mary with partner Peter Treleaven

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Every year bands of fearless fundraisers make the arduous trip from John O'Groats to Land's End on bicycles or on foot to help finance charities.

But for former farmer Mary Phillips the obvious choice was her treasured 1953 Field Marshall tractor.

It was the first time this type of classic tractor had been used to raise funds on the well-travelled charity route.

Affectionately named Fran after a fellow fundraiser, the machine moved at just nine miles an hour throughout the 957-mile trip.

Setting off on August 2, for the next 17 days Mary became a familiar sight on A roads and lanes the length of the country as she chugged her way from Scotland back home to Cornwall.

Her epic journey on the classic tractor was in aid of Devon Air Ambulance Trust and Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust, for which she hopes to have raised £15,000.

Mary, from St Teath, Bodmin, North Cornwall, who celebrated her 72nd birthday on the trip, described the experience as "absolutely wonderful" although with a few tricky moments.

She said: "I had a marvellous time. The mountains in Scotland were magnificent.

"Throughout the whole trip I was rained on only ten times which isn't bad really.

"I drove for around eight hours every day and kept a diary of my travels.

"I was badly bitten by midges along the way and there were some pretty terrifying hairpin bends.

"But the worst thing of all was the speed some of the other drivers hurtle along at." However, Mary was not completely alone during her mammoth trek.

Partner Peter Treleaven, 65, also a former farmer and expert on the Field Marshall, travelled in front of Mary in the couple's Land Rover towing a caravan, where they slept each night. And friends brought up the rear, driving behind Mary in a motorhome.

Through a series of shorter rides and other fundraising efforts over the past eight years Mary had already raised around £30,000 for the charities. After a well-earned rest Mary is already planning her next event to raise money for the two charities including another tractor show at Hatherleigh, Devon.

She said: "Years ago when my mother was ill the air ambulance was called in and I decided afterwards to do my best to help support it because it's such an important service in our rural areas."

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