Cabbie sets off for hardest drive

Clive Blakesley and his friend Jason Wilson are doing a marathon drive in a ?100 car from Diss to Edinburgh and back.''Pictured: Clive Blakesley, Jason Wilson (Orange T-Shirt) and Diann Challis ANL-151006-145508009

Clive Blakesley and his friend Jason Wilson are doing a marathon drive in a ?100 car from Diss to Edinburgh and back.''Pictured: Clive Blakesley, Jason Wilson (Orange T-Shirt) and Diann Challis ANL-151006-145508009

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A Scole cabbie is doing a marathon drive to help others.

Clive Blakesley, of Scole Cabs, and his friend Jason Wilson from Diss-based sign makers Dissigns, will be squeezing themselves into a tiny beaten-up Fiat which they bought for about £100.

The plan is to drive from Diss to Edinburgh and back in just 24 hours, a distance of some 1,000 miles.

The pair will be leaving on Saturday at around 4am, and will stay overnight in Edinburgh.

They will return via a less direct route, including the notorious Hardknott Pass in Cumbria. The road approaching the pass shares the title of steepest road in England with another road in North Yorkshire, both at a gradient of about 1 in 3, which may prove a challenge for the little cheap car.

Clive’s wife Gill, who lives in Scole, explained why the family decided to raise money for Caroline House, which is part of the Colman Rehabilitation Centre in Norwich: “We have a friend called Diann Challis and she had a brain haemorrhage in 2013 which caused a stroke and was treated for months in the rehabilitation centre.

“We realised there was a desperate shortage of good- quality electric wheelchairs and in fact they have just run out of them all together.”

Mrs Blakesley said the chairs cost around £1,500 each because they are specialist chairs designed for people who have had strokes.

They are specifically for people to use at the rehabilitation centre to try out, because not every stroke patient is suitable for using an electric wheelchair.

They are aiming to buy two chairs for the rehab unit, and they already have enough money to buy one.

The old Fiat has been covered in coloured squares, put on by Mr Wilson’s sign-making company.

People have been asked to sponsor a square with a suggested donation of £20 per square.

Gill and Clive’s friend Diann, who used to work in Lloyd’s Bank in Diss, had the stroke when she was just 47 years old.

Gill said: “She is still in a wheelchair but lives independently with carers. She is making good progress.

“We were told at first that she would not survive, but she has done really well and now she hopes to be able to walk on her own again soon.”

Caroline House is a specialist neurological rehabilitation inpatients centre.

Anyone can donate money even after the event by emailing squares741@hotmail.com

For more on the centre visit: www.norfolkcommunityhealthandcare.nhs.uk