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Bereaved husband takes on 6,000-mile Baltic Sea Circle Rally in £600 Porsche to fundraise for Arthur Rank Hospice



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By Siobhan Middleton

A Cambridgeshire man is hoping to raise £50,000 for the hospice that supported his family following his wife’s cancer diagnosis by taking on an “ambitious” 6,000-mile rally through the Baltic Sea Circle in an old Porsche he snapped up on eBay.

Jenny, wife of Stephen Hughes and mother to three young boys, died at the age of 35, six months after her cancer diagnosis in late 2019.

Stephen Hughes and Gemma Bullock with the Porsche they will use for the Baltic Sea Rally. Picture: Keith Heppell
Stephen Hughes and Gemma Bullock with the Porsche they will use for the Baltic Sea Rally. Picture: Keith Heppell

Arthur Rank Hospice Charity, in Shelford Bottom, provided practical support and counselling sessions for Jenny and Stephen. They also ran play activities and sessions making memory books and boxes, which helped their sons and allowed them to keep precious memories of their mum.

“Jenny was just an amazing, super-kind person and a lovely mum,” said Stephen.

“She dedicated her life to helping other people and worked for many charities, including Arthur Rank at one point.

“Jenny might think I’m crazy if she knew I was doing something so ambitious, but I think she would be extremely proud of what I’m trying to do for the hospice.

Stephen Hughes with his wife Jenny, who died at the age of 35
Stephen Hughes with his wife Jenny, who died at the age of 35

“The staff at Arthur Rank were just amazing. In the final weeks of Jenny’s life, it was great that I was able to be with her 24/7. Arthur Rank helped to look after Jenny and make her as comfortable as possible.

“I just want to do the things I think Jenny would be proud of – whether that’s raising the kids or helping other people through this rally.”

Stephen, from Littleport, and his teammate Gemma will be driving the Porsche in the 16-day Baltic Sea Circle adventure rally - a classic cars event that runs through 10 countries from Hamburg in Germany, up through Denmark, Sweden and Norway, and down through Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland – before returning to Germany. There is no defined route through these countries, and GPS and motorways are forbidden, which Stephen believes will all add to the fun of the trip.

Stephen Hughes and Gemma Bullock with the Porsche they will use for the Baltic Sea Rally. Picture: Keith Heppell
Stephen Hughes and Gemma Bullock with the Porsche they will use for the Baltic Sea Rally. Picture: Keith Heppell

He said: “Jenny and I had always talked about visiting Scandinavia, but we never got the chance to.

“Most of the countries we’ll drive through are new to me as I haven’t travelled to them before. So, it will be amazing to experience the scenery and the culture in these places, and to meet the people.

“I’ve done some camping before, which might be useful as we’ll be camping throughout the trip, but I have never done anything like this.”

Stephen Hughes is taking on the Baltic Sea Circle Adventure Rally with his team mate Gemma Bullock
Stephen Hughes is taking on the Baltic Sea Circle Adventure Rally with his team mate Gemma Bullock

After a few years of use since Stephen bought it on eBay for less than £600 in 2014, the 1987 Porsche 1944 that will carry Stephen and Gemma across 6,000 miles had been gathering rust on Stephen’s driveway for four years.

He has spent the last 18 months working on it, including servicing the engine, replacing the seats and doing a bit of welding to restore the bodywork.

“The restoration project became a way to deal with the loss of Jenny, by giving me a focus and allowing me to stay busy,” explained Stephen.

Stephen Hughes and Gemma Bullock with the Porsche they will use for the Baltic Sea Rally. Picture: Keith Heppell
Stephen Hughes and Gemma Bullock with the Porsche they will use for the Baltic Sea Rally. Picture: Keith Heppell

“As with a lot of classic cars, as soon as I tried to fix one thing, I discovered five other things that were broken or needed replacing.

“It has been a lot more work than I expected, but it has now passed its MoT and I think it’s just about ready for the start of the rally in seven weeks.”

Stephen Hughes and Gemma Bullock with the Porsche they will use for the Baltic Sea Rally. Picture: Keith Heppell
Stephen Hughes and Gemma Bullock with the Porsche they will use for the Baltic Sea Rally. Picture: Keith Heppell

And to offset the emissions from the rally, Stephen has joined Ecologi, who will plant 30 trees every month for the next year. It provides reforestation schemes in Mozambique and Madagascar, as well as supporting schemes in the UK.

They will set off on June 19 and intend to finish by July 4.

Stephen is happy to put the names of anyone who donates on the car and hopes to see it covered in sponsors – enough to raise the £50,000 target.

If you would like to see your name on Stephen’s Porsche and help Arthur Rank Hospice Charity support more families, you can donate at https://wildspiritadventure.co.uk.

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