The annual Gathering of the Griffin was held this year at Stonham Barns, Stonham Aspal, Suffolk. The organisers; Rob Billman and Michelle Lines once again kindly invited the Professional Drivers Foundation to attend and raise funds for our aim of helping lorry drivers during times of need. Each year Rob and Michelle excel themselves in the welcome and helpfulness extended to us. This goes for their loyal band of helpers as well and despite our various requests nothing seems to be too much trouble. We really appreciate everybody’s help.
Re-branded this year as Swedefest16, the gathering also invited Volvo drivers and their trucks which added an extra edge of light hearted rivalry, the event was held over the weekend of the 17th & 18th of September.
Saturday morning was spent setting up our stand in a perfect spot next to the main building. There was also a foraging expedition to supplement our raffle prizes, as always the generosity of other stand holders exceeded our expectations. Added to items already given we had donations from, amongst others; Autosmart, CDC Megga Truckshops, Chrome Northwest)Ltd, Live Promotions Events Ltd. (Truckfest), Michelle Lines, Richard Simpson, Road Transport Media Ltd and Volvo Trucks GB. Apologies for any names missed.
After a short break Pat & Ian began their task of visiting every truck on site armed with a good supply of raffle tickets. Driver’s pockets may be deep but in this case their arms are longer, their generosity a highlight of each gathering.
Saturday night was quiz night where it transpired that some of the teams couldn’t hear the questions whilst the quiz masters couldn’t hear the answers but like lorry drivers everywhere we got there somehow. One question which raised a lot of reaction was. “How much time should be allowed for the pre-shift vehicle walk around inspection?” (For the definitive answer please send us your name and address on the back of a five pound note.) After the quiz there was the Saturday night light show, a brilliant spectacle only rivalled by the firework display at the end of the Olympics. Next year’s quiz will include the question; “what is the total number of lights in the field?” I’m sure they could see it from space.
Sunday was getting to meet everybody with more raffle expeditions by Pat & Ian, we also met many old friends at the tent. The truck pull saw some fierce competition between teams of five and one valiant effort by a gentleman who warmed up by taking part in one of the team pulls. With an eight tonne tractor unit on the other end of the rope this was no mean effort. Eventual winner of the contest was ‘No Pulling Chance’ a team from Alwyns.
The raffle was drawn just before the main presentation with 13 winning tickets. The prizes included an Autosmart Retail Detailing kit, A Chrome (North West) Cleaning kit, 3 annual subscriptions to Truck & Driver magazine, 3 annual subscriptions to Commercial Motor, a Baylis & Harding Beauty set, a French Connection Beauty Set, Truckfest Jacket and model Volvo, A Lizardlick t-shirt and CDC Elvis Truck & Trailer and an Ice Road Trucker Hoodie plus model Volvo.
The truck pull winners received a much sought after model of the new Scania S730 V8, whilst the Volvo team winners received a model Volvo Delivery Truck, the other teams shared a bottle of wine each. The afternoon finished with the Show presentations.
A preliminary count showed we have raised over £500:00 from the raffle with another £50 donated via our various buckets and collection bottles. Added to this we have received £350 from the organisers of the show plus £650 from one of the trade stalls making a grand total of OVER £1550.00 Our grateful thanks to all, we couldn’t do it without you. The result more than makes up for the time and effort put in by the trustees to enable us to attend this event. One finished his last run late on Friday and then packed the kit and drove to the event, after the event ended at 17:30 Sunday he had a 02:30 start on Monday, another spent many hours in front of the printer producing Flysheet and liaising with Rob & Michelle, plus doing a hundred other things the rest of us don’t think about. A third faced a 200 miles drive each way. This year we were helped by old friend Paul who proved to be a solid cornerstone. The trustees work for free and any expenses are donated back to PDF funds. (New applicants welcome)
One nice story to come out was when a young boy came up to Pat after the raffle, he’d been in and out of the tent all day with his eyes of the Elvis Truck. He really hoped he’s win it but sadly his number didn’t come out. He came to Pat and told her he had not won but wondered that if he gave her some big hugs could she see if his Grandad could win the truck next year. A small thing but this little lad made our afternoon.
A General View of our excellent location.
Pat & Ian set off on yet another foraging trip.
Truck Pull Prizes
Ian and Friend
Part of the line up