Tractors add £6,000 and miles to 1 Million Miles for Ellie target

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Plenty of horsepower went into efforts to beat cancer last weekend, with crofters turning out in force for a special tractor rally fundraiser on North Uist.

Hundreds of people cheered on a mile-long procession of tractors - ranging from the vintage to the sparkling new - raising close to £6000 in the process.

North Uist Agricultural Society (NUAS) organised the event to support the 1 Million Miles for Ellie campaign - a drive to raise £1million for Cancer Research UK, Maggies and MacMillan Cancer Support in memory of local girl Ellie MacDonald who passed away aged 23 following a short battle with cancer.

When Ellie died in 2014, her mum, Michelle, set out to honour her memory by raising £1million for cancer charities through a million miles of challenges.

To date more than £60,000 has been raised through walks, marathons, an assault course and many more epic undertakings.

Last week - Saturday 28th May - the local agricultural community got in on the act with 49 tractors lining up to go the distance on the circular road around North Uist. Crofters from the neighbouring islands of Berneray, Harris, Benbecula and South Uist also travelled to take part in the charity trek.

Occasionally stopping to cool off and give some of the older models a much needed break, donations poured in as the tractors made their way across the island.

At one stop alone, Clachan, £1200 was donated by spectators.

After setting off in stages - older tractors first - by the end all the machines were together for the final stretch towards the showground at Hosta.

Ellie’s father, Angus, led the rally as it arrived back where it began before a huge crowd of supporters.

Each tractor driver paid £10 to take part in the rally and donations were collected throughout the day.

Events at the showground - including a raffle, lucky square game and find the bottle - took the grand total raised to just under £6000.

An upcoming online auction of additional prizes is expected to push the amount raised even higher.

NUAS secretary Joan Ferguson, who led the organisation of the event, said: “It was fantastic to see so many tractors turn out, matched by so many people cheering them on.

“Everybody enjoyed the event and we raised an unbelievable sum for a wonderful cause.”

Ellie’s mum, Michelle, was bowled over by the generosity of the local community.

She said: “A huge thank you must go to North Uist Agricultural Society - especially Joan who came up with the idea for this event - and everyone who helped make it happen and came along to share the day.

“Special thanks to the tractor drivers, lorry drivers, judges, those who ran stalls and provided refreshments along the way, spectators along the route, bakers, soup makers, Lochmaddy Hotel for facilitating the evening ceilidh, and those who made the journey to Hosta to support both those taking part and the 1 Million Miles for Ellie campaign.

“It was a day full of friendship, community and laughter - heartfelt thanks again to you all - our journey together is truly an amazing and humbling one.”

For information about the 1 Million Miles for Ellie campaign visit www.1millionmilesforellie.co.uk or the ‘1 Million Miles for Ellie’ Facebook page.

PRIZE LIST

Best turned out tractor (Vintage) - Willie Anderson, Benbecula (Massey Ferguson 135)

Best turned out tractor (Modern) - Iain Anderson, Benbecula (Massey Ferguson 5410)

Oldest tractor - Iain MacAskill, Berneray (Ferguson TE20 - 1949)

Furthest travelled - Alastair Dixon (Lochgilphead)

Furthest travelled local male - Ralph Thompson, South Uist

Furthest travelled local female - Margaret MacDonald, South Uist

Best turned out lorry - Kevin MacQuarrie, North Uist

Best lorry - Norman MacAskill, South Uist

Pictured top Ellie’s dad Angus MacDonald leading the rally back to Hosta showground.

Also pictured is Margaret MacDonald (South Uist) the furthest travelled lady driver.