10th August 2022 saw the start of the final 10 Day Collins Aerospace Rally for Heroes, organised by SSAFA to raise money for military charities. The Rally aims to travel 5 miles for every service man or woman who has fallen in the line of duty, since the start of the Afghanistan campaign.
Elmdale Maintenance has been involved in supporting this event with money already raised for the charity and Service Director, Jon Palin physically taking part in this year’s event.
We will be following the progress of Jon and his navigator, Jo (who is also Jon’s wife, so no doubt she will keep him in check along the way), as they make their way across 10 countries in 10 days, in their limited-edition CS800 Ford Mustang.
Day 1: At 10.00am, the cars left Dover Castle and made their way to France, by ferry. So far so good. The goal for today is to drive 263 miles to reach the stunning city of Cologne in Germany where they will re-group and spend their first night. Let the adventure begin……
After a gentle drive through France and Germany the group finally arrive in Cologne.
With plenty of miles to cover on Day 2, the journey from Cologne to Prague was also a chance for the cars to let rip and release their power and noise along the German autobahns.
Over the weekend Jon Palin – Elmdale’s representative on the Rally for Heroes – sent us some photos and an overview of an epic Day 4: As Jon said “Bratislava to Budapest, wow what a day!!!”
It started with a short trip to the Hungarian Border where the group was met by a Military Police escort and guided from the border to the F1 Hungaroring,. It was a dream come true for many of the drivers who were given carte blanche to drive a few laps of this hallowed track.
Once the adrenalin rush had subsided, it was on to Heroes’ Square where the 52 cars lined the square, before a memorial service and wreath laying ceremony, at the end of which the group handed over the 91 “Operation Shoebox” Care Packages, they had brought from home, to a local orphanage.
After what was a truly memorable day, the group headed back to the hotel to prepare for a night out for some more local cuisine and culture. Unsurprisingly, Day 5 was a day of rest but there was a chance to visit the thermal baths in Budapest and take in some therapy of a more retail nature, for gifts and souvenirs – and that was enough excitement for one day!
After a day of rest on Day 5, the next leg was the long drive from Budapest to Salzburg. The day was spent mostly behind the wheel with a brief stop for lunch. The weather was quite a challenge today as it changed constantly from hot and sunny to wet and stormy and this made driving around the twisty Austrian roads quite tricky in places. However, the scenery was stunning, as the convoy snaked on, with hills, mountains and tiny picturesque villages to take in along the way.
Eventually, the group arrived at their overnight hotel more than ready for bed but excited about the following day’s trip to Trento, in Italy, via the Grossglockener mountain which is the second highest mountain in Alps and a car trip just isn’t complete without a hairy mountain pass or two.
As Day 7 unfolded it was clear that the drive to Trento, from Salzburg, was going to be stunning. The weather was absolutely perfect and the roads a dream to drive on and for mile after mile, the scenery was simply breath-taking.
On Day 8 the Rally for Heroes group set off from Trento in Italy really excited about the day ahead. Today’s drive would take them to Davos in Switzerland, via the Stelvio Pass! The pass is famous for some of the most winding roads in Europe, testing the mettle of even the most experienced and adventurous drivers.
Along the way there was so much glorious scenery to take in – chocolate box picture houses and steep forested slopes. The terrain grew higher and so did the expectations of the drivers – but there was a bit of a hold-up before the group could get going – no-one knew why – possibly a build up of traffic on the Pass feeling a bit “ginger” before plunging down the side of really steep mountain. However, finally, it was all systems go and the twists and turns didn’t disappoint. A cracking day was had by all (including the passengers) with the group enjoying the challenge and the experience in equal measure.
When the cars finally arrived in Davos, they were greeted by the magnificent site of their hotel for the night, the Alpen Hotel in Davos – a futuristic styled gold building and, as Jon described it “..it looks like it’s designed from a Faberge egg!” . Well, after such a drive, a bit of luxury and style was just what the doctor ordered.
Time flies and, in the case of the Rally for Heroes, the days have certainly done just that! It’s Day 9 already and after the Group’s stay in the quirky Alpen Hotel, it was time to wend their way back towards France and their next destination, Chamonix.
After the hair-raising Stelvio Pass, the group were to be treated to another of the Alpine Passes, the San Bernadino Pass – not quite as steep but spectacular nonetheless. With more breath-taking vistas (and some rather strange locals) to marvel at, it was another sensational day at the wheel and a well-earned rest at yet another whacky hotel in Chamonix, the Hotel Alpina was most welcome.