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Annie Chapman, founder of the Pink Ladies’ Tractor Run, given top award for charity efforts from Cancer Research UK

An inspirational fundraiser has described being humbled after receiving a top award for her long-running charity efforts.

Annie Chapman founded the Pink Ladies’ Tractor Run in 2004 as a way of raising money for Cancer Research UK – and last year saw the event break the £1 million barrier.

In recognition of her efforts, 82-year-old Mrs Chapman was made a honorary fellow of Cancer Research UK at the charity’s national Flame of Hope awards last week.

Annie Chapman with her Flame of Hope award. Picture: Cancer Research UK
Annie Chapman with her Flame of Hope award. Picture: Cancer Research UK

Mrs Chapman, from Pulham St Mary, said the fundraiser, which sees women driving decorated tractors on a south Norfolk and north Suffolk route every year on the first weekend of July, came from an idea in 2003.

“My husband John and I were trying to think of what I could do when I retired,” she said. “He suggested a tractor run for ladies; it’s a strong movement countrywide, but it was mostly men raising money.

“I rang a couple of friends and organised a poster and sent it out to everyone I could think of.

Organiser of the Pink Ladies Tractor Run, Annie Chapman. Picture: Jonathan Slack
Organiser of the Pink Ladies Tractor Run, Annie Chapman. Picture: Jonathan Slack

“One of the ladies I rang had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, so we decided to raise money for Cancer Research UK’s research into breast cancer and it snowballed from there.”

The first year saw 50 tractors attend and it raised £16,500, but on its 20th anniversary run last year, it was a record-breaker.

“On the day, there were 201 ladies on 195 tractors – and we needed £104,000 to reach the £1 million mark,” she said. “We raised £201,000 – we smashed it. A record number of ladies took part and we had record sponsorship.”

Mrs Chapman also won the Flame of Hope volunteer of the year award in 2008 and carried the Olympic Torch for Cancer Research for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Two years later, she received the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her services to charity.

On her latest accolade, she said: “The honorary fellowship is a huge honour, but the only problem is I cannot share it.

“This event is not just about me. I am very humbled because people are so very kind and so generous.

“We don’t have a committee; it’s just John, me, my daughter, Libby, and, of course, our dear friends who have been with us from the beginning: chief mechanic Rob White and chief marshal Roger Connah.

“We also have a huge army of marshals and other helpers step up to support us.”

Sophia France from CRUK, who nominated Mrs Chapman for the accolade, praised her dedication.

She said: “Annie selflessly organises the event’s logistics, recruit participants, produces promotional materials and distributes all sponsorship packs herself. She is humble, tenacious, ambitious, noble and generous and is celebrated in East Anglia and further afield.”

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