by STACEY HEANEY
At the launch of the 11th annual Truck Festival in lrvinestown, which takes place from July 22.24, are event organisers. George Gordon, GS Gordon and Sons Lisburn, Sheena Havlin Marie Curie Fundraising Manager, Hugo Duncan Radio Ulster and Joe Mahon from Mahons Hotel Irvinestown. The event has to date raised £350,000 for local Marie Curie Nurses and is proudly sponsored by P&O Ferries, Derry Bros Shipping, Truck Align (NI) and Top Oil. For more details visit www.irvinestowntruckfestival.co.uk or call 02882 249888 for a registration pack. Pic by Presseye.
LISBURN man George Gordon is getting his brightly coloured Marie Curie Daffodil Lorry into gear as he revs up for the annual Truck Convoy, which will be heading to Irvinestown later this month.
The now legendary truck festival, which takes place from July 22-24, will see the lorry, owned by George and driven by Uncle Hugo from Radio Ulster, taking part on its annual fundraising route.
George became involved with the festival alongside Hugo Duncan and Joe Mahon ten years ago. The event, which is now in its eleventh year, has raised over £350,000 during that time in aid of Marie Curie Nurses who work in every local community throughout Northern Ireland.
The festival sees up to 500 lorries come from all parts of Ireland, Scotland and beyond come together for a family festival, whilst raising vital funds for Marie Curie. George explained: "There were 17 lorries in the first year and we have built from that until our peak in 2007 when we had just over 700 trucks and we have been steadily around 500 since then."
The festival will kick off on Friday July 22 with a 'Festival of Lights', when all the trucks join together for a circuit of the outer roads around Irvinestown with all of their lights on, in a spectacular show. George said: "Last year we introduced the Festival of Lights, where the trucks do several circuits of the outer roads at 11pm with all of their lights on. There was an unbelievable turnout of people to watch and we have prizes for the best truck or the truck with the most lights.
"This year on the Saturday we will also have something new when the trucks will be judged. The competition will be sponsored by Crumlin company Truck Align (NI) and there will be a trophy and prize of £500 for the Best Working Truck, second prize will be a trophy and £250 and third prize will be a trophy and £ 100. There will also be a trophy and £250 for the Best Vintage Vehicle." The annual festival will also see drivers depart from George Deane's lorry park next to the Bawnacre leisure centre, and drive in convoy for 60 miles on the narrow country roads around the lakes of Fermanagh, calling into all the towns and villages along the way, as part of the lady of the Lake Festival on Sunday July 24.
Entertainment during the weekend is provided by Hugo Duncan and his band and joined by various guest artists, whilst CD's complied by Hugo Duncan will also be on sale with proceeds going to the charity.
George added: "This is very much a family weekend, with entertainment, fun truck rides for the kids, music during the day, it's a lot of fun."
Sheena Havlin, Fundraising Manager with Marie Curie said, "The popularity of this event, now in its 11th year is down to the hard work of George Gordon, Joe Mahon and Hugo Duncan, who have worked together from the start to organise this event that has to date raised over £350,000 in aid of Marie Curie Nurses. The organisers depend on the drivers to register and get sponsored to take part, and the public to come and enjoy all that is on offer, and make a donation to the Volunteer collectors. The success of the event is made possible by the support of ongoing sponsors P&O Ferries and Derry Bros, along with two new sponsors.
"Top Oil who will provide all participants with, a goody bag, and Truck Align (NI) who will be hosting, for the first time, a lorry competition with cash prizes totaling £1000.
Their generosity ensures that all costs are covered and all money raised goes directly to pay for patient care." Drivers wishing to take part, or those interested in having a trade stall are asked to register, in advance, by contacting 028 82 249 888, or visiting www.irvinestowntruckfestival.co.uk