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Thursday, 02 July 2015

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Bob gears up for Distington vintage gathering

Bob Sanderson has always enjoyed taking things apart and putting them back together. As a child his favourite toy was Lego.

It may come as no surprise therefore that Bob, now 58, likes nothing more than to be surrounded by a shed full of vintage bikes waiting to be taken apart, cleaned up and put back together again. He calls them his “projects”.

There will be no cleaning down and fixing up of projects this weekend, though, because Bob will be busy with the West Cumbria Vintage Rally at Distington, which he has helped to organise since the 1980s.

Bob, of Fell View, Bridgefoot, near Workington, was introduced to rallying in 1971 by Joe Dempster, who he worked with as an apprentice at the Distington Engineering Company.

He says: “One day he said ‘do you fancy coming to a rally?’ I had visions of Ford Escorts hurtling through forests. He said ‘no, a vintage rally,’ We went to Carlisle and there were old vehicles and tractors, and I was bitten.”

In 1980 Bob moved to Pica and met up with Sid Christopherson, of Distington.

He says: “I’d heard about this guy who owned a large collection of tractors. I wandered down, had a chat and I was friends with him until his death in 1996.

“In 1980 Sid said, ‘Do you fancy helping to organise a rally?’ Originally it was to raise money for a scanner at Carlisle hospital.”

Bob was one of the original founders and is one of only three who remain as organisers of the West Cumbria Vintage Club event, although they are well supported by club members.

The rally has taken place on the Christophersons’ land at Hayes Castle Farm on all except two years; one when it was moved to Whitehaven Harbour because of foot and mouth disease and in 2012 when wet weather waterlogged the site, forcing the team to cancel.

Since Bob suffered two strokes in the past year he has delegated much of the organisational work to Mr Christopherson’s eldest daughter Debra Simpson. Her sister Diane is treasurer.

He remains an active part of the event, however, and enjoys it as much now as he did more than 30 years ago.

In 1998 Bob bought a Scammell Pioneer, a World War Two breakdown truck used for towing military vehicles. The previous owner had died and there were some surprises in store.

Bob says: “I picked it up in Manchester with the assistance of Tyson Burridge. On the way back I was looking out of the back and I could see all this dust flying off it.

“In 2001 there was a fire at the farm and it was burnt out. I rang the previous owner’s family to let them know and they said ‘Barry’s got his truck back.’ It turned out they’d scattered his ashes on it.

“Poor Barry’s scattered all up the M6 and we pressure washed him off when we got home.”

Bob now has a World War Two Dodge Ram weapons carrier.

On Sunday it will be among many exhibits and alongside Viking re-enactments, fun fair rides, stalls and other attractions.

He says: “It’s definitely changed my life. Meeting Sid and getting involved in the vintage rally was one of the best things I ever did.”

The fair starts at 10.30am and runs until late afternoon, with a grand parade at 4pm.

Entry is £6 for adults, £3 for children and £12 for a family of two adults and two children.

Have your say

Well done Bob, a fantastic effort.
Funny isn't it that a man who works hard for the area and achieves a lot is not honoured, and has to keep on working until 65. While a man who achieves so little for the area gets A Knighthood and retires at 60. Beggars belief doesn't it?

Posted by Cyclops on 7 July 2014 at 09:33

I hope is nice on sunday cos when is its a good day

Posted by kevin brockbank on 4 July 2014 at 16:12

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