Serious message from fun tractor trek

12 Jan, 2018 04:00 AM
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Elders west zone general manager James Cornish (left) receives a plaque from Ron and Kerry Bywaters, acknowledging the company's support of the Tail-End Charlie campaign and journey.
Elders west zone general manager James Cornish (left) receives a plaque from Ron and Kerry Bywaters, acknowledging the company's support of the Tail-End Charlie campaign and journey.

“IF we saved one life for the whole trip, it was worth it.”

That was how Ron Bywaters summed up the Tail-End Charlie journey across Australia last year that raised money and awareness for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and the Breast Cancer Network of Australia.

The journey involved 10 people, including two from New Zealand and two from the United Kingdom, who volunteered their time to travel more than 14,000 kilometres in 56 days in an old 9G Chamberlain tractor.

The trek mirrored the famous Mobilgas Round Australia event that was held in 1957 where a Chamberlain tractor, affectionately known as Tail-End Charlie, was a support vehicle.

More than $36,000 was raised on the anniversary trip that finished in Northam in early September last year, but that was just the icing on the cake according to Mr Bywaters, who was involved in the original challenge as a 22-year-old.

The Wundowie man said the idea of last year’s journey was to get the message across to people to take responsibility for their health and to have regular medical checks.

To wrap up the campaign, the Tail-End Charlie team visited various organisations at the end of last year who supported the journey, including a catch-up with Elders west zone general manager James Cornish.

“We presented him with a trophy and thanked him for the support from Elders which has been great,” Mr Bywaters said.

He said Elders did a fantastic job of promoting the cause and they couldn’t thank them enough.

“Their branches around the countryside put on functions and raised money for us,” Mr Bywaters said.

“Through them (Elders) we have met a lot more people.”

While the journey was about the 60th anniversary of the original journey, Mr Bywaters said the awareness and health program took over.

“That is what people were interested in,” he said.

“The breast cancer and prostate cancer support groups also went out of their way to meet us and give us money.

“They inspired us and we inspired them – it was a win-win situation all-around.

“Some of the stories they told were heart-breaking.

“Everywhere we went, we had a great reception and the Rotary and Lions Clubs put on functions for us as well.

“We could not have wished for anything better.”

Mr Cornish said Elders was more than happy to be involved in the Tail-End Charlie campaign.

“It’s a very relative cause to our industry and our business – many people within our business and communities have been affected, both clients and staff,” Mr Cornish said.

He said being involved was a great fit for Elders, with the tractor travelling to many parts of regional and rural Australia.

He said the effort put in by the Tail-End Charlie team over a long period of time was an amazing effort.

“We have been very proud to have been involved in it – it has been a successful partnership,” Mr Cornish said.

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