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Screwball-2-(3)

image credit: The GTR/Siemens team are getting set for the Screwball Rally 2019 in their ex-London cab. L-R: Alex Doughty, Neil Plummer, Simon Hurford, Allan Morton and Keir Stainton

Five colleagues are finalising preparations ahead of driving a 14-year-old former taxi nearly 1,300 miles across Europe as part of a fundraising challenge

Neil Plummer and Simon Hurford of Eastbourne, Allan Morton of Shoreham, Keir Stainton of Bognor Regis, and Alex Doughty of Tunbridge Wells, are taking part in the Screwball Rally on September 18, which will see them drive the ex-London cab through England, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany and Switzerland over five days.

Rules of the competition state that participants can spend no more than £750 on a ‘banger,’ but the colleagues from Govia Thameslink Railway and Siemens did one better by bagging their old TX2 Hackney Carriage for just £300. The old cab, emblazoned with a Heineken advert, has a 2.6 litre Ford engine and 176,000 miles on the clock.

Father-of-two Neil said: “We just need it to cover another 1,281 miles and we will be alright! Our group includes two ex-engineers and an-ex Royal Air Force engineer, so we should be OK. We’ve found a couple of small oil leaks, but nothing we can’t sort out.”

Neil added: “I love driving. I find it therapeutic, and everyone wants to drive a London cab. The driving and everything in between will be priceless. We’re itching to get going.”

The GTR/Siemens team will meet up with 120 other Screwball Rally teams in Kent tomorrow (Wednesday, September 18), setting off the next morning to Dover to catch the ferry across to mainland Europe. Each morning they will be told where the next overnight camp is, but it will be up to them which route they take and which towns or villages they visit along the way.

Neil, 38, Simon, 38, Keir, 42, and Allan, 38, are all Fleet Maintenance Control Managers based at the Three Bridges Rail Operating Centre. Working alongside them is Alex, 26, who works on behalf of Siemens in technical support. The team, who will be wearing braces, flat caps and checked shirts, will share the driving, doing a day each.

They are raising money for End Youth Homelessness, which is a collaboration of charities that gives 30,000 young people across the UK a safe and stable place to live. To donate, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/neil-plummer2