Pavestone shares a few highlights of the mad five days in September for the 2023.
Following the huge successes of the previous Pavestone Rallies, and the enforced pandemic break, we successfully staged the long awaited 2023 Pavestone Rally.
It’s been almost two months now since we all celebrated crossing the finish line at Monte Carlo, and we have collected most of the money pledged. Here are a few highlights of the five days in September.
The calm before the storm!
On Wednesday 6 September, 32 teams made their way from around the UK, all dressed up in ‘Where’s Wally’ outfits (some disguised as Aaron Frogley, event organiser) as well as outlandish golfing attire. Ferry across to France and finally arriving in Ghent, Belgium by the evening, for Pre-Rally drinks celebrations.
An early start the next morning, struggling against the rush hour traffic, we all met at Pavestone's Block Paving production plant at the Marlux Ghent factory for the official welcome, ready for the off!
As this was officially the first day of the 2023 Pavestone Rally, it was the first time we all had a chance to see the hard work that the teams had put into their car decorating. And of course to see the many different fancy dress costumes adorned by 120 crazy people.
Today was ‘Freestyle’ day, which didn’t disappoint! From Batman, Robin and The Joker to characters from the Wizard of Oz, we eagerly awaited our challenges for the day, and the good luck send off from the event organisers, Aaron and Melissa.
And we’re off!
With the starting whistle loudly blown, 32 cars, including The Mystery Machine, a London Taxi and a Tank, all set off on our way to our first destination, Strasbourg.
Today’s challenges were a mix of collecting various items and taking silly photographs as well as making crazy videos with the general public. It’s amazing how accommodating people will be when you are dressed up as the Spice Girls!! They quite happily allowed us to taste their ice creams, more than happy to crack raw eggs on team members heads, and would listen intently to teams acting as City Tour Guides!
Shoppers watched in amazement and bewilderedness as teams made themselves into human totem poles and stacked food tins to over 6 foot high.
Charity begins at home (well Strasbourg to be more precise!)
After an evening of taking in the sights and lights of Strasbourg, the dawn greeted hotel guests to the eclectic sights of the teams fancy dress. Day two’s theme was ‘Charity Shop’ which truly demonstrated some teams creativity.
As well as the obligatory men dressed in glamorous womens clothing, Aaron and Melissa came dressed as a pair of curtains and team ‘It’s not About the Points’ even managed to all dress up as characters from Mary Poppins. As well as converting their London Taxi into an Edwardian terrace rooftop, complete with smoking chimney.
Day two's destination was Innsbruck, Austria and the day's challenges were again the usual mix of photos and videos, but were starting to get somewhat more adventurous and ridiculous. Asking complete strangers to participate in a game of musical chairs or statues. Cramming as many hot dogs into your mouth. And even shaving off an eyebrow. A team members eyebrow, not a member of the public, thank goodness!
Enroute to Austria, all the teams stopped off at the Ecodrom Go Kart race track, where not only was the Rally convoy attracting strange looks from passersby, but had also attracted the attention of the local TV. To help spread the word of our fundraising capers, Aaron was interviewed by a German news crew and later appeared on National German TV. The news of the Pavestone 2023 Rally was spreading fast. Almost as fast as some of the Go Kart drivers!
The scenery became much prettier, driving through deep-sided mountain valleys and crossing numerous ice melt rivers. Perfect for taking up another of the days challenges. A dip in a lake or a river. Brrrrrrrrrr!
After a long day's driving and go karting, we finally arrived in Innsbruck for dinner and drinks.
Across the Alps to Italy!
Day Three. Probably the biggest challenge day for some of the cars. Innsbruck to Milan, Italy, via the notorious Stelvio Pass. 2,757m above sea level, it is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps, and the second highest in the Alps. The dress code for today was ‘Food & Drink’ and we all met at the famous Bergisel Ski Jump, used in the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup. A banquet of foodie costumes. Pineapples, pizzas, peas, chickens, aubergines and grapes, all being washed down with a bottle of Buckfast Tonic wine!
With such an arduous drive ahead, fortunately the day's challenges were fairly tame, yet still raised a lot of smiles with the locals and tourists. Luckily, English is spoken by many throughout Europe. How else could we explain to fifteen complete strangers, to all hold hands? Just as well the British have a reputation for being eccentric.
The Stelvio Pass did prove to be quite a feat. All but one car made it all the way to Milan. The first casualty of the Pavestone Rally, Team Talasey suffered engine problems only a few hundred feet from the summit, and unfortunately was as far as they were going to get. Their car was scrapped and the whole team had to make alternative transport arrangements to get back home.
A late arrival to Milan for the rest of the cars and a well deserved drink beckoned.
The final straight!
Milan to the finishing post at Monte Carlo, Monaco. What better choice of costume theme for the final day of the 2023 Pavestone Rally. ‘P’ for Pavestone.
Pacman, pimps, prostitutes, pirates, princesses, prisoners, pilots, priests……and of course Pavestone Paving slabs!
As we were all ‘challenged’ out, there were only two challenges for the final day. But what biggies they were. Shave the word ‘Pavestone’ in your hair and an even more daring feat, the Fermented Fish Challenge!! Made famous by BBC’s Top Gear, teams were tasked with opening a tin of fermented fish in their cars, with the doors and windows closed. An Icelandic delicacy for some. Not so, for the Pavestone Rally teams. The second part of the fish challenge, once they had stopped retching from the foul smell, was to each eat a piece of the fish. Not many teams gained the massive 500 points for this challenge.
After a short journey down to Genoa and a beautiful drive hugging the Mediterranean coast, the teams all finally crossed the finish line just outside the Place du Casino , greeted by Francesca & Hannah from the charity CRASH.
Fantastic! 1,670km from where we all started back in Ghent, we just had enough time to whizz around the F1 race circuit before heading off to Nice for the presentation evening.
And the winner is…
With enough time to refresh, shower, shave and put on the lippy, we all headed down to the Castel Plage situated on the beach front. A truly magnificent venue to celebrate passing the chequered flag and finding out who’d won the prizes.
Everyone that took part, received their own Pavestone 2023 Rally medal, and prizes were awarded for the extra -‘bonus’ challenges set by our official sponsors, K-Rend , Fakro, Burg-Wächter and Circulayo.
As the sun dropped down below the horizon, it was time to announce the overall winning team. It had been a close competition, leading up to the event and throughout the Rally, with Team BMF and Team Toolbank running almost neck and neck but it was the boys from Palladium to stand proud on the podium.
So, with the trophies and medals all handed out we all waited with baited breath to hear Aaron announce the total amount raised. Although the current financial climate makes fundraising very difficult, we were still hopeful of beating the 2019 Rally, a total of £135,000.
You could here a pin drop whilst we were all on the edge of our seats waiting in anticipation...
“And the total raised from the 2023 Pavestone Rally is......... £217,824”
A great cheer echoed along the Nice Promenade. We certainly did have something to celebrate.
£217,824 raised and split equally between the four chosen charities, British Heart Foundation , Variety Childrens Charity , CRASH and Rainy Day Trust.
Combined with the previous Rallies, we have managed to raise almost two thirds of a million pounds for charities.
With a few sore heads the following morning, the teams made their own way back to Blighty. Some travelling all the way home in one day, some leaving their cars at the scrap yard and flying home, whilst others took a more relaxing journey back over a few days.
Now almost two months later, I think we have all pretty much recovered from our epic journeys.
Jon Layton, Group CEO of Pavestone: “Myself, Krystal, Aaron and all of Team Pavestone would like to say thank you to everyone who supported the Pavestone 2023 Rally but more importantly, we’d like to say a huge thank you to all the teams who took part. We hope you had just as much fun as we did. What better way to raise money for such well deserving charities. We look forward to seeing you again in 2025.”
Time to start thinking about the 2025 Pavestone Rally!