AN American truck, motorcycle outriders, police "arrests" and a huge sum of money – one couple from Caithness really know how to shake up the end-to-end challenge.
Local trucking enthusiasts Dan and Dolina Mackenzie led a convoy of four trucks from Dunnet Head to John O’Groats and then Land’s End at the beginning of the month, raising more than £4000 for the Thurso branches of the RNLI and Macmillan Cancer Support.
Dolina explained this was the longest trip ever undertaken by the couple in their imported American Peterbilt truck, and that the support was there every mile.
"There was good company, good weather and the support was fantastic," said Dolina. "The money raised was brilliant. We are over the moon with the generosity of people."
Dan came up with the challenge after raising money for his birthday last year for the same two causes, and soon roped in some friends to help.
Victor Nicolson and Keith Milburn drove their own trucks up from Cumbria, with Colin Sutherland, from Murkle, taking the wheel of Dan’s Renault Magnum for the 1000-mile journey.
On July 29 up to 70 people turned up at Dunnet Head and John O’Groats to see the convoy get under way.
"We were really pleased with the send-off we got," said Dolina. "We couldn’t believe how many people came out to see us."
Going down to Inverness the four trucks were each accompanied by an outrider from the Last Chapter, the locally based Harley Davidson Motorcycle Club.
Local RNLI spokesperson David Brown, who was in the support car on the trip, said that one of the highlights was a prank they played on Dan just outside Hereford.
"We were asking a policeman for directions to a hotel and he just happened to be a guy from Glasgow called Andy Thomson. We asked him if he was game for a bit of crack and he said he was," explained David.
"So I phoned Dan and told him Dave Paterson, the support car driver, had been chased for 15 miles by the police for doing 85 mph in a 50 zone."
Panicking that the charity trip would be tainted with this
indiscretion and thinking that the police were on their case, Dan phoned the support car back and told them not to come to where the trucks were parked up for the night.
However, the policeman had already been told where to go and soon appeared knocking on the truck’s door.
"The officer arrived at the truck stop and had a casual look around the lorries and just asked a few questions about the car," said David.
"Then we arrived in and said ‘How’s it going Andy? Long time no see’ and Dan took a big red face. It was a great wind-up."
Dave was "arrested" for speeding and Dan for "perverting the course of justice", with everyone taking the prank in good fun.
The trip was made even more enjoyable as support was at every turn for the truckers.
"The people were just there for the lifeboat and for Macmillan – from Dunnet Head to Land’s End," said David.
"The people at Gretna Hall Hotel gave us a cheque for £400 and that was just for pulling in to see them. We just thought it was fantastic."
Already the group of volunteers is organising a similar run for next year, with details yet to be confirmed.
There is also to be a fundraising party in the Waterfront in Wick on September 10 with a disco, live Elvis tribute and a buffet, with the proceeds raised going to the same two causes.
David added that everyone involved is "incredibly grateful" to all those who have helped with the fundraiser and to those who have made a contribution whether big or small.
To make a donation to Dan and Dolina’s end-to-end challenge visit: http:/uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/DieselDan