THE NORTH DEVON
LEGENDARY GRAND TOUR
The Legendary Grand Tour is unlike any other motoring event in the country because it is not confined to a field but to the roads of North Devon. What makes our event so special is our Minis do not drive off in groups of 20 or 1 every 3 minutes but in convoy one after the other. We could never call the LGT the biggest motoring event in the country because we restrict it to 250 minis but when it is out on the open road in a convoy traveling at 30mph, it is nearly 10 miles long and can take 15 to 20 minutes to pass, so it must be one of the longest.
We take our convoy to so many different Towns and Villages across North Devon, in fact we join some of the Towns and Villages together. We bring thousands of people out into the streets to watch us go by. We invade housing estates where people are sitting on their front lawns drinking tea and sipping glasses of wine and waving flags from behind homemade banners. The spectators will fill lay-byes and they will be standing on bridges laughing and smiling and waving as we go bye.
Somehow over the past 20 years the Minis have been taken into the hearts of the people of North Devon and that’s how we can do what we do and get away with it. There is an incredible reaction from the children who drag their parents out to watch it year after year, they cheer and dance when they hear us coming, their Mums and Dads, Nans and Grandads smile and wave as we go by. Maybe we bring back a few memoirs of a time when they had a mini and how the whole family squeezed into one to go on holiday.
The Grand Tour could not work without some very special help and we have our own Noble Knights and Brave Damsels who ride motorbikes, they stop us getting lost especially the lead Mini because he has no sense of direction at all. Our Knights and Damsels do not stop the traffic but they do ask the car drivers if it is ok for us to pass, few ever say no these days.
The Legendary Grand Tour is not just an event, it is an incredible roller coaster ride around the highways and byways of North Devon that will fill you with an assortment of different emotion. By the end of the weekend your arm will be aching from all the waving and you will have a grin that just won’t go away but none of those feelings can compare to the ones you get when we reach Little Bridge House on the Monday morning.
As we slither through a quiet residential estate like a long snake towards Little Bridge House, with the lead Mini blasting out we’ve got us a convoy from two big loud speakers on its roof and everyone else with their fingers on their musical horns the special children know we are close. When we drive through the gates you will get a welcome that will stay with you forever because lined up alongside the road will be the special children with their Mums and Dads, Brothers and Sisters along with their carers even the cooks come out and they have all been waiting, just for us to arrive.
They will be laughing, cheering, clapping and waving flags and its then that you feel that lump in your throat start to get bigger and your eyes start to fill with tears. But don’t worry it is not just you that gets that lump, everybody gets it, especially the Mums and Dads and the carers because they can see the effect and reactions we are having on the children, some of which are in wheelchairs and some may still be in their beds but everyone there will be waving or trying to wave their home made flags or pictures. It takes only a few minutes from the moment you get there to past all the Children and then leave but it is a few minutes that you will never forget. I know that the special Children and their families love seeing all the Minis decorated in their fancy dress, watching the 250 Minis and our Motorbikes drive pass creates a memory that will stay with the families forever.
When we go into Little Bridge House we see a side of the Hospice few people ever get to see. We see the families laughing smiling and having fun but it is so easy to forget that Little Bridge House is still a place where get well cards do not work nor can you kiss the children better and all the fairy dust in the world could never change their diagnosis, all we can ever do is hope and pray that we see them all again next year.
Once you have been through the gates of Little Bridge House (a place they call a little bit of heaven) on the August Bank Holiday Monday, you will realise why our event is so special and why it has lasted 21 years.