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The Tractor Girls
Smart-nav led me up the Perthshire back roads, as I headed for my 10am interview at Weem, outside Aberfeldy. The twisting country roads were a pleasant change from the 40mph traffic on the Glasgow/ Stirling motorway, where road works abound and it also diverted me from the rush hour traffic at Perth. These rural lanes will form part of the long journey ahead for the ten budding fundraisers heading south.
A bubbly 22-year old, in a bright pink Tractor Girls hooded top, greeted me at the Weem small holding, full of enthusiasm for her cause.
“The initial concept was dreamed up last June, but it was October before we flew to Southampton with our ball gowns for a photo shoot,” explained Eilidh, who has recently taken on a position as Development Officer with the RSABI in Central Scotland.
“It is a new position and I cover Fife and Angus in the East, over to Argyll in the West, while Ashley Baird covers south of the Erskine Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge,” said Eilidh, who is based from home.
A lovingly restored Super Dexta 1963 performance model is Eilidh’s mode of transport for the John O’Groats to Lands End vintage tractor run. “Dad restored it, with help in the workshop. It was found on John Molloy’s fathers farm.”
“It is a scarce model of Dexter as it was only made for 18 months,” explained Eilidh’s father, Willie Grieve, a self-confessed vintage tractor ‘anorak’! “The model was made to compete with the Massey Ferguson and had a higher horsepower than the MF35. Produced from June 1963 till September 1964, only 8500 tractors of the grey-wheeled model came off the production line,” said Willie, did up the Super Dexta 10 years ago and is back-up crew and mechanic on the journey south. “It took me two years off and on to do it up – I could see a divorce siting coming up!” laughed Wilie.
Parts were procured from Old 20 Parts Company and Fife Tractors.
“Nine of the ten tractors have interchangeable wheels, which makes it easier for carrying spares,” said Willie, who is no stranger to tractor circles. His other past-time is competing at ploughing matches across the country and has already won three (world style) championships this year – Easter Ross, the Highlands of Fife and Atholl and Breadalbane and one conventional one at Carse of Gowrie and is qualified for the Ford and Fordson Association match in Lincoln in October.
The highest accolade in ploughing is the Royal Highland and Agricultural medal, of which Willie has a dozen. He usually qualifies in the top six in the country, but has yet to make the World Championships as only the top person represents Scotland.
The competitive gene has been passed down the generations as Eilidh won the Scottish Schools Eventing and was in the winning Scottish University Eventing team. Her sister Laura is riding Waffle, the 15hh Connemara, this season as Eilidh will have her bottom parked on a Super Dexta seat rather than a saddle.
Eilidh fell into tractor driving by accident as her sister Laura pulled out of a tractor run. “After a half mile test drive I did the local tractor run and have gone on to do Fife, Killin and Carse of Gowrie runs as well.”
So taken with the tractor, she was gifted it for her 21st birthday.
En route, various Vintage tractor buffs will be hosting BBQ’s and evening events for the gaggle of girls and their entourage. Using horsy contacts, show jumper David Broome, will also be entertaining them at his yard! The full itinerary can be viewed at www.tg2010.co.uk
This plucky young lady is the ideal candidate for fund raising for the RSABI and when the Vintage Run is over she will be dedicating her time to the agricultural sector and raising awareness across the country.
The girls will be on the New Holland stand at the Royal Highland Show with their buckets – so give generously!