Breast cancer survivor nears end of 250-mile journey from Blackpool to London – on a mobility scooter
Tracey Vinyard battled thieves, convinced police to escort her and fought an irate lorry driver on her two week trip
Paul Gallagher is a reporter for the Independent and Independent on Sunday having joined the group in 2012. He has previously worked for the European Voice, Daily Mirror and the Observer and been based in Brussels, Belfast, Tokyo and London.
Wednesday 22 May 2013
It started out as a joke. But having ridden her mobility scooter from her home in Thornton-Cleveleys, Lancashire, across the misty Peak District, through the Midlands and due south with the finishing line in London a few days away, breast cancer survivor Tracey Vinyard is having the last laugh as she comes to the end of her unique 250-mile charity challenge.
“Nobody believed me when I told them what I had planned,” she told The Independent from the A6 near Flitwick in Bedfordshire. “I’ve been on the road almost two weeks now and I’m exhausted, but I’m almost at the end.”
Waiting for Mrs Vinyard at the finishing line in Canary Wharf, east London, is her 78-year-old father Alfie – who has no idea what his daughter has been up to. “It’s going to be a bit of a surprise when I tell him.”
Husband Michael and their dog Skipper accompanied Mrs Vinyard on the first leg of their trip to Blackpool but from then the 50-year-old has been going solo. Having ridden for around 14 hours a day every day since 11 May, she has battled thieves, convinced police to escort her to the end of carriageways and even fought an irate lorry driver who tried to carry out a citizen’s arrest after blowing his top at seeing the ‘class 2 invalid carriage’ with a maximum speed of 4mph slowing him down.
But nothing is going to deter Mrs Vinyard from completing her challenge and donating what she hopes will be thousands of pounds to her six chosen charities - Blue Skies Hospital Fund, which provides breast care at Blackpool Victoria, the RNLI, who lent her waterproofs, Support for the Elderly, the North West Air Ambulance, British Heart Foundation and the Spiritualist Church in Cleveleys.
Mrs Vinyard, who has been in remission for three years, said: “I’ve had the police called on me three times, but they’ve given me a pat on the shoulder once I’ve told them why I’m doing this.
“It hasn’t been easy – I’ve been surviving on a diet of McDonalds and sandwiches – and I don’t want to stay in £90 a night hotels so there have been times when I’ve just stayed all night in McDonalds with a cup of coffee. I nodded off once and the staff tried to throw me out, so I just bought another coffee. They can't throw out paying customers.”
One woman rescued Mrs Vinyard from outside her house in Derbyshire after her batteried went flat. Heather Toomey, who set up a website for donations, wackyscooter.co.uk, said: “We put her up for the night so she could recharge the scooter batteries.”
Thieves struck during another late night encounter in the Salford McDonalds, snatching her mobile phone while Mrs Vinyard had nodded off. Greater Manchester Police promised that “such cowardice will not go unpunished”.
The toughest moments so far have been crossing the misty peaks near Buxton, when she had to get off and push the scooter with one hand while waving a tea towel with her hazard lights on to warn oncoming traffic, and getting across Kirkham roundabout with its two motorway slip roads.
Her brother-in-law Dave promised to follow with a back-up van for the two weeks but dropped out when he realised Mrs Vinyard was actually serious, leaving cousin Denise Cavens to check in every morning and update the Facebook page.
Mrs Cavens said: “Tracey is doing great and meeting some amazing people along the way. Thank you to all the kind hearted people that have help and supported her.”
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Feminist quotes to inspire you on the International Women's Day
Oscar Pistorius trial: Never mind a media scrum – murder case becomes bizarre safari following the tracks of a wounded lion
Belle Knox: How the porn star student from Duke University became bigger than Justin Bieber
International Women's Day 2014: Mothers and daughters describe their hopes and dreams in touching photographs
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 4 Too upsetting? Academy members voted for Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave 'without watching it'
- 5 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...