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

John Elliott with his D22 1957 Renault tractor
John Elliott with his D22 1957 Renault tractor

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

John Elliott, 78, and wife Kathy Elliott, 76, 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.

Kathy Elliott putting the finishing touches on.

Kathy Elliott putting the finishing touches on.

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.

He said: “The last time I saw Emma was on her 60th birthday and she could barely speak.

“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.”

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.

Emma Getliffe with husband Charles

Emma Getliffe with husband Charles

John estimates the trip in the 1957 D22 Renault tractor - which has a top speed of 15mph - will take about a month.

Read more: Vintage tractor convoy wows spectators in memory of much-loved Peak District farmer

The classic machine was given to John by a friend in the Pyrenean village of Castelnau-Riviere-Basse - where he and Kathy emigrated to 15 years ago after leaving Buxton.

After deciding to take on the journey 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.

Great-grandfather-of-five John said: “The top speed is about 25kph but you have to thrash it to do that - I can just about do 20kph on a smooth road.

“We’re getting beeped a bit but we try and keep to the quieter roads.

“It’s really quite exciting - I get butterflies every now and then when I hope the tractor can keep going and I can keep going - I can’t believe I’m doing this aged 78.”

John and Kathy are setting out on their trip on June 13.

All proceeds will go to the MND Association.

To sponsor them visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JWE