Rallying cry to save East Coast Truckers convoy

A RALLYING cry has been made to save a popular children’s convoy which has brought smiles to hundreds of vulnerable youngsters over the past 25 years.

People within the borough of Great Yarmouth are urged to sign a public petition to prevent a convoy of 100 beautifully polished trucks disappearing from the seafront next year.

Currently, crowds turn out in their thousands to see the East Coast Truckers Charity children’s convoy, which takes disadvantaged children on day trips from Norwich, through Great Yarmouth, and on to Pleasurewood Hills theme park near Lowestoft.

But this year’s event could be the last, with the police no longer providing the motorcycle outriders needed to stop traffic and guide trucks through red lights as of next year.

Austin Crouch, the Squirrel mascot for the ECTC, has already collected more than 100 signatures.

The 56-year-old, from Cobholm, said: “The convoy is part of the seafront’s heritage and I am passionate about keeping this tradition going for years to come.

“I am confident I can get 10,000 people to sign this petition by this year’s event.”

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The convoy is traditionally held in August, with 75,000 spectators attending last year.

The decision to cut police outriders for 2012 has been met with anger from the former lord mayor of Norwich, Jill Miller, who remembered waving the convoy off during her civic role in 1986.

Police have told the truckers that they can use alternative escorts for the convoy, but they would not have the power to stop traffic or allow the trucks to pass through red lights.

Rob Billman, chairman of the East Coast Truckers Charity, said the charity were pleased to see the support from the public despite not being directly involved with the petition.

“We are so pleased with the public support,” he said. “I think it is amazing that enough people feel that strongly that they want to come together and try to do something for us.

“It is not that we do not want to be involved in the petition, but we feel it is safer if we keep our distance at this time.”

l If you would like more information about the petition visit: www.keeptheconvoyalive.info/