Brit's charity tractor trek heads for Sweden
Published: 24 Jul 2014 09:45 GMT+02:00
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Peter Matheson, 50, will make the 8000-mile round trip to raise over £100,000 ($170,260) in memory of a young friend who passed away last year. Tom Bowbridge died aged 19 of an aggressive stomach cancer in October 2013.
Matheson, a former policeman and originally from Oxford, sets off on Saturday August 9th from John o' Groats in the Scottish Highlands. He hopes to raise vital funds for the Tom Bowbridge Foundation, set up after the teenager's passing.
Matheson will make the journey on a vintage tractor he bought on eBay for 81,889 kronor ($11,900). The 1972 Massey Ferguson 135 is 42 years old and - although eight years younger than its owner - it has no power steering, just three gears, and is open to the elements. Her top speed is a 'nippy' 24 kilometres per hour.
The 1972 Massey Ferguson bought on eBay and heading for Sweden. Photo: Peter Matheson
The tractor will tow an 8.5 metre caravan Matheson also bought, which will provide accommodation for the intrepid explorer and his dog, Amber, along the way.
But why a tractor? The idea for the trip, now called "The Tractor Bumble", came to Matheson only two weeks ago in a eureka moment.
"Many people have asked me if this trip is my mid-life crisis, but I am simply one of life's nomads. I have a wanderer's spirit," Matheson told The Local. "The idea of seeing one view forevermore out of my window saddens me. Life is for living, exploring and having fun. I am not yet old enough for an armchair, pipe and slippers."
He believes the tractor will create a lot of attention with people everywhere. He said: "I took the tractor for her maiden test-drive on Monday in Inverness, Scotland. Many people just came and talked to me out of nowhere. They wanted photographs and kids were waving. It was surreal!"
The estimated four-month expedition will see him travel from John o' Groats to Land's End, before passing through France, Germany and Scandinavia, and then back to the UK.
The Local asked, "Why Sweden?"
Matheson said: "This journey is for a life ambition - to see the Northern Lights in their majesty. I believe people are lights in our lives and although Tom's light may have faded, the Northern Lights resurrect my memory of him."
The former policeman hopes to arrive in Scandinavia around mid-September and expects to be back in the UK in December.
Along the way, Matheson hopes to meet many people, connect with different cultures, and raise money for the Tom Bowbridge Foundation.
"This trip isn't about me. It is about helping causes and putting smiles on other people's faces. A small idea has ballooned into something of a scale I never could have imagined," said Matheson.
For more information about Matheson's journey or to donate to the Tom Bowbridge Foundation, visit www.spanglefish.com/TractorBumble.