Belfast Telegraph

Three mums rally round to support cancer funds drive

By Linda Stewart

Three mums are planning to rally drive 1,600 miles across Europe in a souped-up old banger in a bid to raise money for Northern Ireland's cancer charities.

Paula McErlean and her two friends launched their campaign at the Balmoral Show this week to commemorate her son, motocross racer Callan McErlean, who died last June at the age of 16, just seven weeks after he was diagnosed with a rare cancer.

The three have now thrown themselves into fundraising and are taking on the cross-continent Motoscape Banger Rally in September under the name Team 338, Callan's race number.

They will be taking to the road in a 1998 VW Golf bought for £300 and driving through 12 countries in seven days, including the precipitous Stelvio Pass through the Alps with its scores of hairpin bends. Rally rules only permit cars bought for under £333 to take part. Louise Buckley said she, Paula and Annie Mottram all became friends through motocross, so the rally seemed like a good way to raise money following Callan's death.

"Callan loved adrenaline-fuelled things, so we decided we wanted to do something that was a wee bit more of a challenge," Louise said.

"We will be driving across 12 countries in Europe in seven days.

"The car was in pretty bad shape when it was bought and it's had a lot of work done to its engine since.

"It's taken since Christmas to get it ready but now it's passed its MOT and is really ready. Now we're out and about trying to do a bit of promotion – we're here for the three days and then the North West 200 on Saturday." Callan's sister Tamara and her friends ran the Belfast Marathon Relay to raise money for Team 338's nominated charities.

Louise says she is amazed by the amount of support they have already had for their efforts to raise money for CLIC Sargent (NI) and Friends of the Cancer Centre.

"Many companies and individuals have very generously given their time, skills and required parts to make the Team 338 car roadworthy and eye-catching for this challenge," she said.

The rally sets off from France, travelling through Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Liechtenstein, over the Alps and the Dolomites into Italy and then up through Slovenia, into Austria and the Czech Republic.

To find out more about the challenge, visit the Team 338 FaceBook page or #Team338 on Instagram

Belfast Telegraph