DRIVING THE DISTANCE FOR DEMENTIA WITH JOHN DEERE

HMP Kirkham prison officer Andy Maxfield from Inskip in Lancashire is finalising plans to set a brand-new Guinness World Record by driving from John O’Groats to Land’s End on a John Deere lawn tractor, whilst raising money for the charity, Alzheimer’s Society.

The ‘Driving the Distance for Dementia’ Challenge will set off from John O’Groats at 8am on Tuesday 25 July 2017; the signposted distance to Land’s End is 874 miles. The planned route expects them to arrive in the South West on Saturday, passing Bristol around midday, then on to Taunton and Crediton, reaching Okehampton early Sunday morning then past Redruth, Penzance and finally their end destination Land’s End.

Roger Prior, Director at Masons Kings said, “As the local John Deere dealership for Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, we are looking forward to seeing this challenge arrive in our region on Saturday. It’s going to be exciting to see how the X750 lawn tractor, a popular product at Masons Kings, gets on with such a big distance and different terrains. This is such a great cause and myself and the rest of the team can’t wait to see this Guinness World Record achieved.”

This distance has not been attempted before on an unmodified lawn tractor, but Andy is still hoping to complete the distance in less than five days on his own. He has recently been promoting the challenge at shows and events in the north of England, starting with a visit to his beloved Blackburn Rovers FC – see the club’s video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2hyoHbP5j8&feature=youtu.be – and including this month’s Great Yorkshire Show.

Andy Maxfield will be using a 24hp X750 John Deere lawn tractor and accompanied by support vehicles provided by John Deere. The X750 has power steering, cruise control and a top road speed of around 10mph. Andy will also be supported by his wife Karen and their two daughters Kathryn and Kaitlyn.

Andy’s 77-year-old father James and James’ mother Theresa were both diagnosed with dementia, which prompted Andy to start seriously fundraising for the charity in January this year. “Initially I had the idea of a fundraising ball to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society, which will be held on Saturday 9 December at Preston Masonic Hall,” he said.

“After that, because friends and neighbours often take the mickey out of me for being into lawnmowers – I’ve got eight altogether for cutting the grass around the village – I just thought it would be appropriate to try for the world record for driving a lawn tractor the length of Britain. I asked John Deere, although I don’t have one of their mowers at home, as I know they make quality products and I wanted something to get me from A to B without breaking down!”

John Deere Limited, turf division manager Chris Meacock, said: “Our UK and Ireland employees select a specific charity each year to support with a variety of fundraising activities. By coincidence we had chosen Alzheimer’s Society when we were approached by Andy Maxfield to help with the Guinness World Record attempt, so it was very good timing on his part!

“We are delighted to back this very worthy cause and are looking forward to the challenge. In addition to providing the X750 for ‘Driving the Distance for Dementia’, we have offered Andy a new X350R lawn tractor worth over £5,000 as a special raffle prize for the family’s charity ball in December.”

Sue Swire, regional community fundraising officer for Alzheimer’s Society in Lancashire, said: “It’s wonderful that Andy is taking on such a great challenge to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society to unite against dementia, and we are really grateful. Funds raised from the challenge will help us move a step closer to a world without dementia – dementia devastates lives, but dementia won’t win.”

Andy Maxfield’s charity ball has a JustGiving website page for donations at www.justgiving.com/andrew-maxfield, with the total already standing at over £2,200 in early July, and donations can also be made by texting MAXF80 £3 to 70070. More information on the ball and the challenge are available at www.facebook.com/ForgetMeNotPreston, and by following Andy on Twitter @AndyMax69.

Alzheimer’s Society is available for anyone affected by dementia and there are lots of ways the charity can help – for details call the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122 or visit www.alzheimers.org.uk.

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