Northampton pals raise £17,000 for cancer in four-day charity drive around Europe

L-R: Tom Clarke, Russell Dack, Luke Emery and Martin Pepin.
L-R: Tom Clarke, Russell Dack, Luke Emery and Martin Pepin.

A group of friends from Northampton have raised £17,000 for Cancer Research UK after travelling 1,800 miles across Europe - in budget bangers.

Luke Emery, Tom Clarke, Russell Dack and Martin Pepin took on the mammoth route across France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Switzerland on June 8, in six cars costing only £500 each.

The cars were displayed to the team members before they left the UK.

The cars were displayed to the team members before they left the UK.

The friends, who have known each other for 15 years, also teamed up with eight other car enthusiasts from Exeter and Folkestone and scheduled in a lap of the famous Nürburgring circuit while on their travels.

Luke Emery - who arranged the trip - was inspired to raise money for charity after his sister died aged four following a fight with leukemia. His brother also battled the disease twice while he was at school - and is currently being treated for skin cancer.

The group, who had an initial target of £6,000, surpassed their goal by £11,000.

Luke said: "The Mercedes had a gearbox failure on day one but luckily we managed to fix that. We got the Mercedes back up and running in about eight hours.”

Throughout the drive from Italy to Switzerland the Beetle also had some teething problems and had to be driven for one day, without a gear box, before it underwent emergency overnight repairwork.

All six cars were kept a secret until the teams departed from the UK - and were driven in teams of two. Luke said his first reaction when he saw the cars was total shock as the team had pranked each other.

Luke joked: "We had all been giving each other little hints but it turns out we had been lying to each other.

“When they pulled up it was a total shock - I couldn't believe it.

"Everyone there was all characters - we all got on really well - it couldn't have gone better. We are all chuffed to bits,” Luke added.

After watching the old Top Gear team take on this route many years ago Luke was inspired to follow in their footsteps.

The 12 drivers bought the cars with their own funds and were only allowed to spend £500, per car, on modifications.

Everyone who has participated this year has agreed to take part next year and the group will raise money for a different charity.

To donate to the group, click: https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/team/once-in-a-lifetime