Kids enjoy annual ride with truckers

More than 100 lorries rumbled their way out of Norwich in a giant convoy to celebrate 25 years of bringing smiles to the faces of disadvantaged children.

More than 100 lorries rumbled their way out of Norwich in a giant convoy to celebrate 25 years of bringing smiles to the faces of disadvantaged children.

The 25th East Coast Truckers children's charity convoy saw 101 lorries set out from County Hall yesterday morning and then trundle along the A47 to Great Yarmouth seafront.

In each lorry cab was a disadvantaged child enjoying the journey of their lives.

And the convoy made its regular detour to Pleasurewood Hills theme park at Corton, near Lowestoft, where the scores of delighted youngsters had an out of this world experience.

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As the 100 children enjoyed a picnic and games at the theme park they had a close encounter with Darth Vader and his evil stormtroopers as Star Wars fans from Norwich dressed up to entertain the children.

Leading the convoy in truck number one was Glenn Johnson, who thought up the idea of the charity ride a quarter of a century ago and has led every convoy since.

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The first convoy in 1986 saw 22 lorries make their way from Norwich to Yarmouth.

In the last few years about 80 lorry drivers from across East Anglia have taken part in the event.

For the 25th anniversary it was decided that 100 lorries were needed to mark the milestone event.

The East Coast Truckers believe it may be longest convey of working lorries in the world with large crowds coming out to wave to the vehicles as they left Norwich and headed down the A47.

Yesterday was the last time Mr Johnson will lead and organise the rally as he passed the baton onto his friend and fellow trucker Rob Billman.

Mr Johnson, who lives in Fressingfield, near Eye and has been a lorry driver for 32 years, said: “The last 25 years have been a real pleasure and a great testimony to the everyone that has taken part.”

The East Coast Truckers became a charity in 2000 after the club was formed in Ebenezer's nightclub in Norwich's Plumsted Road in September 1981.

As well as the children's convoys, the charity has raised about �350,000 for good causes over the last decade.

Mr Billman, the second driver in the convoy and chairman of the East Coast Truckers, paid tribute to Mr Johnson's time at the wheel as convoy organiser.

He said: “Nobody else could put in so much effort and hard work over the last 25 years and stick it at for so long.

“It is a great feeling to put a smile on the face of child - it is priceless to see that.”

Denise Thompson, publicity relations manager at Pleasurewood Hills said: “The children get so excited when they arrive here.

“And we all get excited as we see their faces light up. We are very proud to be involved in the convoy.”

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