Sponsors of the upcoming Factory to Festival (FTF) Miles Better Together initiative, launched to replace this year’s Factory to Festival fundraiser, have already raised £5,900 for local charities.

Earlier this year, Leyland Trucks opted to cancel its annual Helping Hand event for the first time, because of COVID-19. It has since launched FTF Miles Better Together, a fortnight-long, safe and socially-distanced fundraising event which is being sponsored by a raft of Lancashire organisations including Made Profiles Ltd, Schneider Electric, Pailton Engineering and Essential Industrial Services.

Brigade Electronics, the Leyland Rotary Club, Atlas Copco Tools, South Ribble Borough Council and KP Industries have also signed up to sponsor the event, contributing to the fundraising pot which has already reached £8,000.

Set to take place between Saturday 25th July and Sunday 9th August – during the factory’s annual shutdown period – the event will see Leyland Trucks’ team, their families and friends grab their bikes, running shoes or walking boots to collectively cover as many miles as physically possible to contribute to a target of 2,800 miles – the distance you would cover if you were to visit DAF Trucks’ main European operations.

Leyland Trucks’ Factory to Festival event last year saw more than 110 cyclists cover 8,000 miles to raise more than £16,000. This year’s unique set up features a range of different challenges that have accumulated more than 100 confirmed participants, including a running event held by Revolution Running Club, a community cycle ride organised by South Ribble Borough Council, a 100-mile-in-a-day contest and an online, 200-mile club for any willing participants to join on Strava.

Stuart Derbyshire, Leyland Trucks’ prototype manager and Helping Hand committee member, has organised an additional challenge for riders to cycle from Leyland Trucks to Lytham and back in a single day, to notch up their miles and gain extra donations.

He said: “The true spirit of Leyland is captured each year with the annual festival and our fundraiser. Though these two events which bring the town together have been cancelled, we’ve been inundated with generosity from local organisations wanting to still play their part to support local charities, and families who are eager to get involved with our socially distanced challenges.

“Our social value agenda never pauses – not even for COVID-19 – and we are pleased that this new calendar of events and method of raising money has been so well received in the community. It shows that, even through adversity and challenging times, Leyland people still want to come together for the benefit of others.

“Our Helping Hand charity has already donated more than £1m to local causes, and FTF Miles Better Together will ensure we can add to that. I can’t thank our sponsors enough for their generous donations ahead of the event even taking place – they have got our fundraising efforts off to a great start.

“There’s still time for people to join our teams of walkers, cyclists, golfers, runners and triathletes, while donations – big or small – will always be welcome. They go such a long way, and really do improve the lives of those in our community.”

Leyland Trucks has carefully selected the charities which will benefit from the FTF Miles Better Together challenge, as a thank you to those that have delivered vital front line and care services throughout COVID-19. Donations from the event will be provided to St Catherine’s Hospice, The Ambulance Service Charity and other NHS front line charities.

Greg Fearn from sponsor Schneider Electric, said: “We are proud to sponsor such an important charity event, particularly one which holds more significance and importance than ever during these difficult times.

“We have a long-standing and close relationship with Leyland Trucks and can see they truly value supporting our local community which is something that should be celebrated.”

Roger Brereton from sponsor Pailton Engineering, said: “We’ve supplied steering system parts to Leyland Trucks for many years, so we’re familiar with the company’s charitable efforts and past fundraising events. Its adaptability to raise their annual fundraising targets amid the global pandemic has impressed us, so while this year’s event has had to take a new format, the ethos and values behind the event are as positive as ever.”

Helping Hand is a non-profit organisation run by a dedicated committee of Leyland Trucks and PACCAR Parts employees. Founded in 1994 by a group of enthusiastic workers who wanted to help disadvantaged employees and local causes, the charity last year celebrated its 25th anniversary.

The yearly Factory to Festival fundraiser forms a key part of the Leyland Festival schedule each year. Dating back more than 150 years, generations of local families have grown up with the festival, with its legacy continuing to attract the support and involvement of local people, organisations, schools, community groups and more. 2020 marks the only time the festival has been cancelled.

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