Smiles returning after four years

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Dean Rattray one of the organisers of Smiles4Miles.
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There will be lots of smiles on passengers faces this weekend when, after a four year absence, Smiles4Miles returns to Ashburton.

This will be the fourth Smiles4Miles event. It is on Saturday, August 12.

Ryal Bush Transport Ashburton dispatcher Dean Rattray is part of the team planning the event.

He said ‘‘we had it all planned to go and covid hit. We have been getting phone calls from the organisations that bring people for a ride, ringing to see when we were going to have the next one.’’

Now that this year’s event is getting close ‘‘we are absolutely excited that we can again have it,’’ Dean said.

The idea for Smiles4Miles came from a former staff member. There are similar types of events held in other parts of New Zealand.

Those attending come from community organisations like Hohepa Canterbury as well as anyone with special needs or people facing day-to-day medical challenges.

Going on past days they are expecting 100-plus passengers, as well as their families to attend the event.

While they are still confirming hot rod cars and a rural fire engine, they will have a police car and St John ambulance for viewing, vintage cars and trucks to ride in.

They are expecting around 20 vehicles at this stage to take part. The ride is 21km long starting from Ryal Bush Transport at 77 Maronan Road, Tinwald and out along State Highway One to Racecourse Road, up to the Methven Highway and back to Ryal Bush.

The free rides will start from 11am and run through to 2pm. The event is on wet or fine.

Trucking firms and other business have come on board to provide giveaways.

Dean said the reason Ryal Bush organises the event ‘‘is because its important to give back to the community, it’s something we can do, it’s great.’’

The drivers, their partners, RBTA staff and all those involved in the day ‘‘get so much out of seeing the kids who are stoked and smiling.

‘‘There is an overwhelming response by the kids and their families, they are very appreciative and the drivers look forward to doing it.’’

The event is well-supported by local trucking companies, drivers and their trucks also come from St Andrews, Fairlie, Geraldine and Christchurch.

All those involved give so much ‘‘the drivers give their time and their companies pay the cost of running the vehicles. They all happily get involved,’’ Dean said.

The day doesn’t only include rides but there are static displays and people like Robbie ‘Gooserooter’ Shefford will have his home-built tractor there.

There is a barbecue, with sausages donated by Hireworx, and cooked by the Rapid Relief Team who has supported the previous three events.

It is a day ‘‘all about giving to the community,’’ Dean said

There are raffles and profits from these are given to some of the charities who bring their clients to the day.

If you have a different sort of vehicle that you would be happy to take someone for a ride in Dean would really love to hear from you.

Smiles4Miles couldn’t happen without a lot of people helping in a variety of ways. If people would like to volunteer give Dean Rattray a call on 0274962702.