Full steam ahead for charity rally

The Bloo Toon Loons with James and the Thomas the Tank car
The Bloo Toon Loons with James and the Thomas the Tank car

A Peterhead dad whose two-year-old son has spina bifida and hydrocephalus is driving 2,000 miles to Benidorm in a Thomas the Tank Engine car to raise money for charity.

James Ritchie and three family friends Graeme Smith, Graham Cowie and Allan Taylor, also known as the “Bloo Toon Loons”, are entering the annual Benidorm Banger rally to fundraise for Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland (SBH Scotland).

The Thomas the Tank Engine car

The Thomas the Tank Engine car

The team set off from Peterhead Lido on Monday, May 1 in a car designed in honour of Mr Ritchie’s two-year-old son James’ favourite TV character.

James, 33, said: “Along the way we’ll be undertaking multiple planned challenges, as well as the unforeseen challenges that will inevitably occur since we designed the banger on a shoestring.

“The purpose is to support my son James and raise as much funds for SBH Scotland as possible.

“The charity provides a lifeline for families like us and we’re so grateful to the support they provide.”

The Bloo Toon Loons got a great send-off from friends, family and members of the public

The Bloo Toon Loons got a great send-off from friends, family and members of the public

The team effort has already raised more than £3,000 for the charity which will be used to provide personalised home and hospital support for families in Scotland with children who have spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus.Deborah Roe, fundraising director at SBH Scotland, said: “We are in awe of the amazing work the guys have put into making this special car for the Benidorm Bangers Race. We are eternally grateful to the Ritchie friends and family for their continued support of our charity which relies on donations to continue its extensive range of specialist support across Scotland.

“Every penny raised by the Bloo Toon Loons will go into providing services like our Aberdeen support group and continuing our home and hospital support, which is a vital lifeline for those affected by these lifelong, complex disabilities in the North of Scotland.”

James was first introduced to SBH Scotland after the birth of his son James Jr.

At three-days-old James Jr had to have a number of operations, one to close the hole in his back, and one to fit a medical device to drain fluid which had built up in his brain as a result of hydrocephalus.

A family support worker from SBH Scotland visited the hospital to offer advice and support to James and his partner, Emma, throughout the procedures, and explained everything that was happening.

James added: “It was a big shock when James Jr was born as we hadn’t suspected anything was wrong. Very quickly our life was turned upside down as we were thrown into an unfamiliar world of paediatric surgeons and healthcare specialists.

“Having the dedicated SBH Scotland support worker by our side was crucial, and helped make the experience much more manageable.

“James Jr is now two, and despite the challenges he faces, he powers through it all and constantly exceeds expectations. SBH Scotland is a fantastic charity and their support means everything to me and my family.”

To support the Bloo Toon Loons on their mission, visit virginmoneygiving.com/team/bluetoonloons