Royal medal for tractor run stalwart
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013
A charity stalwart who has raised more than £335,000 for Cancer Research UK by organising the hugely successful Pink Ladies' Tractor Run said she felt 'very honoured and humble' to have been awarded a British Empire Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.
Annie Chapman, of Pulham St Mary, came up with the idea in 2004 after noticing that tractor runs organised in the area often tended to be male-dominated affairs.
Deciding that women should take the wheel for a change, she set them the challenge of finding a tractor for the day and learning how to drive it along the route, which starts and finishes at Thorpe Abbotts Airfield and passes through Brockdish, Starston, Pulham and Dickleburgh before going through the centre of Harleston.
As a friend was being treated for breast cancer at the time, Mrs Chapman also set entrants the task of decorating their tractors in pink to raise money for Cancer Research UK – a cause which she realised touched everyone's hearts. The strength of feeling for the cause and the novelty factor of a women-only tractor run meant the event was an instant hit, with 50 tractors signed up for the first year, raising £16,500.
It attracted 70 entries the following year and 85 the year after that. It has steadily grown in popularity ever since.
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Last year 160 people entered from around the world, helping the event raise an incredible £60,500 for the charity.
But the modest 72-year-old, of Garlic Street, Pulham St Mary, said: 'I don't feel the award is just for me.
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'It's a huge team effort and I couldn't do it without a whole network of people who help me with it.'
Of the event, Mrs Chapman said: 'Most of the ladies who enter the event have never driven a tractor before. Their challenge is to find a tractor, learn to drive it and dress it in pink.'
She said the money raised 'sounds like a drop in the ocean', as Cancer Research UK 'have to raise an awful lot of money'.
'However having heard the results in the last few years about the advances made in research, there is no doubt the money raised has made a difference,' she said.
She also said the reaction of the hundreds of people who lined the streets of Harleston on the day to watch the tractors go by made it a 'very emotional' occasion.
Mrs Chapman has already won several awards for her charity work.
Cancer Research UK named her volunteer of the year in 2008, while in 2011 she was listed among the top 100 'people who make the world' in the Independent newspaper.
In 2012 she carried the Olympic torch in Aldeburgh on behalf of Cancer Research UK and was presented with South Norfolk Council's Queen's Diamond Jubilee Community Award.
However she said the award of a British Empire Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours topped her previous accolades.
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