It’s taken hours but I’m finally there – the tractor is bedecked in decorations and ready for the Pink Ladies’ Tractor Road Run this weekend.
It’s fair to say that I have been fervently decorating the beast with passion, consideration and glee.
And, it has given me time to consider the sheer scale of the Pink Ladies’ Tractor Road Run.
Before I decided to take part I might have thought that being a Pink Lady was relatively straightforward, but believe me, it is not!
There are scores of people who make it happen and knowing how much time I have put into it already – sourcing a tractor, learning to drive it, fundraising and sourcing decorations for my super tractor – I know that each individual has worked their socks off to get to the day itself.
For me, the tractor driving has been the hardest thing to get to grips with (and I’ve been practicing since January!).
Now, this might sound ridiculous coming from a driver with over twenty years experience but, for a start, the tractor is noisy – it shakes, rattles (but hopefully won’t roll).
I’m driving a Massey Fergusson 152. It’s a sturdy, manual beast of a machine. Changing gear and depressing the clutch involves me standing out of my seat to maintain enough pressure – it’s all very different to driving today. But practice I have and practice I will!
I’ve completed numerous training runs (I know, I sound like a marathon runner!) and have hit the heady speed of 13mph – I’m assured that we will average about 8mph which is a relief!
Last week I felt relatively confident until Annie Chapman, the organiser, told me that I must be competent at hill starts.
So a day later I found myself on the steepest hill I could find practicing my clutch control, I now think I’m ready for the big day.
When it came to decorating the tractor, I had to use logic. There are only so many parts of the tractor that you can tie things on to. Thanks to the wonderful welding skills of my husband I now have an arch on the back of my tractor. I even pulled out my 20-year-old sewing machine to fashion some decorations for it.
With five days to go I feel vaguely prepared, which is unusual for me!
It’s become clear to me that passion abounds in all the Pink Ladies.
We are all on a mission to raise the £104,000 needed to smash a fundraising total of £1 million.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the event and to date, the Ladies have managed a phenomenal total of £896,000 and this year there is a real buzz to collectively push for this unbelievable million milestone in aid of Cancer Research UK’s breast cancer appeal.
Over the past few months, I’ve tried to explain what the Run is all about to friends and family – and anyone else who will listen.
I always describe the stories I’ve heard from women who have taken part before.
And, almost every woman, when describing the day of the run, talks vividly about how they feel when they drive through Harleston, the largest town which punctuates the 20-mile route.
The town is bedecked in pink, and crowds pack the streets, filling the air with applause, cheers, shouts and whistles as the train of pink tractors parade through the town.
Many of the women say the unfathomable sight of so many people supporting them brings tears to their eyes.
Recently, I attended a fundraising quiz for the Run and at the end everyone was urged to support the Pink Ladies as and how they could.
I felt very incredibly emotional – I am proud to be joining this merry band of formidable women, knowing that we all have our own stories of motivation.
Many of the women taking part are cancer survivors, but all of us have been affected by cancer in some way – throughout our lives it affects everyone in some shape or form.
I will be taking part in the run, thinking about the strength of the hundreds of participants that have taken part over the years and my treasured Aunty Betty who died of breast cancer.
Of course, the run is a team effort, there are scores of people who have worked their socks off to make it happen, dedicating a lot of time and hard graft.
There are bucket collectors, marshalls, support crews, fundraisers, mechanics, landowners, farmers, tractor owners, fire and first aid personnel, a photographer and so many more, as well as the drivers themselves.
It’s a force of nature.
If you have the opportunity to line the route on the Sunday 2nd July, please wear pink, cheer loudly and donate any pennies you can to help us reach our fundraising target of £1m.
A new book, charting the rise of the Pink Ladies Tractor Run and the stories behind the women who take part is also out now.
‘The Pink Ladies’ reveals the story of the run over its 20 years and features a compilation of many stories – some funny, some emotional and some everything in-between.
We’re all working hard to make the dream a reality so we can continue to support Cancer Research UK’s breast cancer appeal and help to save lives.
Follow my journey @a_countrylife on Instagram.
To donate, visit fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/kate-royall
The 2023 Pink Ladies Tractor Road Run takes place on Sunday July 2. For more information visit ladiestractorroadrun.co.uk