Steve and his pals are driving to Prague in a 1977 ice cream van

Steve Williams, who is driving to Prague in a 1978 icecream van, with his son Thomas Williams, four, Donna Waterhouse from the Friends of Highbury Special School and her daughter Amelia Waterhouse, seven.
Steve Williams, who is driving to Prague in a 1978 icecream van, with his son Thomas Williams, four, Donna Waterhouse from the Friends of Highbury Special School and her daughter Amelia Waterhouse, seven.
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A Halifax man is driving to Prague and back in an ice cream van to raise £10,000 for a Calderdale special school.

Steve Williams, of Holmfield, along with his friends Andy Mclean and Dave Hill, will take the 1977 Bedford CF1, which has not been driven on the road for 14 years, on the 3,000-mile trip to raise money for Highbury School in Rastrick.

The school is trying to raise £250,000 to renovate its 25-year-old hydro therapy pool, which provides physiotherapy care to the youngsters at the school, where Steve’s son Thomas, four, is a pupil.

Money raised will be split between Highbury and the Avalon School in Somerset, a special school close to where Andy lives, which is also fund-raising for a hydro pool.

Steve said at first the trio, who call themselves the 99ers, wanted to do the journey in a kebab van, but were put off by the smell.

“After that we spent a long time looking for an ice cream van, but we were let down a few times,” he said.

“Eventually we found Brian Hutchinson, of Aycliffe Caravans in Co Durham, who agreed to loan us the van with the agreement that we give it back in a better condition than we took it in.”

Its current condition is far from roadworthy, with the van, which has a top speed of 60mph, having not been driven on the road for 14 years.

“We’ll be taking it to the garage and it’ll get a full facelift,” Steve said.

“We’ve agreed to give it back in a better condition than it came in and in return when Brian sells it he’s agreed to donate some of the profit from the sale to our fund.

“These vans were really the predecessor of the Transit van so we don’t have many worries about it not making it. We’ll be making sure the jingles work too.”

The trio hope to serve ice cream as they make their way to the Czech capital, but it will be hard scoop, rather than soft scoop ice cream because the mechanism for the machine sits next to the driver, meaning there would be no room for passengers. They will be staying in hostels as they travel from Holmfield to France, through Switzerland and Germany before arriving in Prague.

“We’ll be plugging the freezers in every night when we reach the hostels so we can serve ice cream as we go,” he said.

As part of the run they will take part in the Crumball Banger Rally, which takes in the famous Selvio Pass, and are also looking for firms to sponsor the van.

For more information visit http://www.charitygiving.co.uk/the99ers.