Could this year’s East Coast Truckers convoy be the last?

ORGANISERS of the region’s popular children’s convoy say this year’s event could be the last because police are reducing their level of support.

For the past 25 years, crowds have lined the route from Norwich to Pleasurewood Hills theme park in Lowestoft on August bank holiday Sunday to cheer a convoy of up to 100 honking trucks taking disabled and disadvantaged youngsters and their families for a day out.

However, Glen Johnson, founder of the organising charity, East Coast Truckers Club, said police had informed them this year’s 26th event would be the last at which they would be providing motorcycle outriders along the route.

Mr Johnson, 63, of Fressingfield in Suffolk, said: “The whole idea of the convoy is that it stays together and only police can do that. They have said we could use alternative escorts but they would not have the power to stop traffic or go through red lights. It is like a carnival and last year there were 75,000 spectators, but without continuing police support it won’t go on.”

Yarmouth and Gorleston spectators have traditionally supported the convoy by the side of the A12 and on its return along Yarmouth seafront.

Mr Johnson said the charity put on a further six or seven events and had even opened a holiday home, but much of the fundraising was generated through the popularity of the children’s convoy.

Assistant chief constable Kevin Wilkins said: “The constabulary has worked incredibly hard with the organisers to discuss safe and alternative ways of organising this event. Overall event safety is the responsibility of the organisers but we, together with other agencies, will continue to work with the charity to ensure safety remains the priority for this and future events.

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“We are pleased to have agreed a plan with the organisers regarding this year’s event enabling the children to have a great day out, supported by the hundreds of people who will line the pavements to cheer them on.”

The event started in Cobholm with Glen Johnson and his mum Doreen at the helm, with just 22 trucks and a visit to Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens. Cobholm is still the engine room of the event, where up to 500 packed lunches are made by a volunteer team.