Scally Rally Cobholm crime blow for fundraisers

WITH a fresh lick of metallic paint, refurbished interior and engine newly brought back from the brink, it was on its way to becoming a fundraising car fit for superheroes.

But dreams to restore a �100 Toyota back to working order ahead of an epic drive around the Emerald Isle have been left in tatters – thanks to an act of mindless destruction.

John Figiel, of Gorleston, was one of four friends who had spent months repairing the 1996 Corolla ahead of the Scally Rally, in which a sub-�100 car is driven 1,000 miles around Ireland.

Inspired by a friend’s successful fight against testicular cancer, they had chosen to raise money for the Everyman male cancer charity.

But though it had survived the same rally two years ago, a vandalism attack on the car – stored away in a 10ft fence-enclosed Cobholm yard- has left it beyond repair and their fundraising attempt under threat.

Father-of-two John is joined by Chris Overton, John Greensides and Evan Mitchell in the effort, with he and Evan having completed the previous rally in the Toyota.

John said: “It was just so mindless. There were just hundreds of pounds worth of damage, with paint poured all over it, the dashboard destroyed and the windscreen smashed.

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“The others are absolutely gutted and whichever way you look at it there’s just no reason for it.”

The group had taken the car out of storage after it successfully completed the 2009 rally, and helped raise �1500 for the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

This time, they would be going as superheroes, and in keeping with this theme had visions of turning the vehicle into a batmobile equivalent.

With work on the car starting at the beginning of this year, it was only weeks away from being ready to go.

“We thought the charity was not as well known as others,” said John, “and we were in the process of getting the car back to working condition and then taking it out.

“We had been badgering friends to help us with restoring it and meeting up in the weekend but the damage means it’s not worth repairing. ”

Now they are relying on the kindness of the community to help them carry on their fundraising efforts and find a car in time for the week-long rally in August.

The 45-year-old added: “We desperately need another car.

“It has to be under �100 or less and anything that would stand a chance of getting around Ireland, whether it was due to be scrapped, would be feasible.”

Those who are interested in helping out can contact info@figielpainting.co.uk