OAP couple complete 900-mile journey from France to Buxton on a vintage tractor

John and Kathy Elliott, front, with friends and support crew Ian and Carol Webster.
John and Kathy Elliott, front, with friends and support crew Ian and Carol Webster.

A pair of OAP expats have arrived in Buxton in a vintage tractor they drove over 900 miles from their home in south west France to raise money for Motor neurone disease (MND) research.

John Elliott, 78, and wife Kathy Elliott, 76, arrived in Buxton yesterday (Wednesday) after two weeks in the 1957 D22 Renault tractor - which has a top speed of 15mph.

John arriving in Buxton.

John arriving in Buxton.

The couple averaged 100km a day after setting out from the Pyrenean village of Castelnau-Riviere-Basse - where they emigrated to 15 years ago after leaving Buxton.

READ MORE: OAP Expats from Buxton undertake 900-mile fundraising roadtrip in a tractor

John and Kathy decided to undertake the madcap fundraiser after watching a friend suffer a ‘terrible ending’ in October - she had been diagnosed with the disease just two years before.

Father-of-four John told how he promised old friend Emma Getliffe - who died aged 60 - he would do the trip to raise some money in her memory and so far the pensioners have raised nearly £3,000.

John and Kathy outside the Duke of York pub.

John and Kathy outside the Duke of York pub.

The classic tractor they travelled in was given to John by a friend in Castelnau-Riviere-Basse.

John spent £2,500 getting it road-fit - which included £900 on new tyres while more was spent on the engine, a spring-loaded seat for a more comfortable ride and a cabin to keep the weather at bay.

He also converted an old camping trailer into a caravan complete with cooking facilities which he and Kathy are towing behind the robust vehicle and will sleep in every night.

John said he was 'amazed' at how well the sturdy vehicle held-up during the trip.

The couple have so far raised nearly 3,000.

The couple have so far raised nearly 3,000.

He said: "It just kept going and going - although I had to put in a new fuel pipe and adjust some bearings along the way.

"We had all sorts to do to keep it running and were assisted by some French farmers but the whole experience has been fantastic - amazing.

"We've met some lovely kind people and it's been a great experience that way."

Although the pair admitted they encountered a few angry lorry drivers while negotiating minor roads both in England and France radio coverage of their arrival had ensured a good response from most Derbyshire drivers.

Great-grandfather-of-five John said he and Kathy now planned to continue fundraising by making appearances in the tractor at several Derbyshire events before heading back to France in August.

However the tractor will be staying in Derbyshire under the care of their son in Castleton.

MND is a condition that affects the brain and nerves and causes weakness that gets worse over time - symptoms include slurred speech and difficulty swallowing.

Before John set out on the trip he spoke about seeing his old friend Emma on her 60th birthday when she was dying of MND and 'she could barely speak'.

He said: “It was a terrible ending and hard to watch because the brain is left perfectly intact while the body disintegrates and people eventually just choke to death.”

John and Kathy will be appearing at Tideswell Carnival on Saturday, Buxton Carnival and Hope Show raising funds for the MND Association.

To make a donation visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JWE