Students’ road trip is a roaring success for the Hospice

A team of five intrepid students and lecturers from West College Scotland in Clydebank have taken on a Top Gear-style challenge across Europe to raise more than £800 for a local charity.

In two revamped cars, the group set off on the trip of a lifetime for the Motoscape Banger Rally, driving through 12 countries in seven days to reach their destination of Prague in the Czech Republic.

The quintet– students Allister Linstead, 26, from Knightswood; Christopher McKenzie, 18 from East Kilbride and David Henry, 29, from Paisley, accompanied by the college Motor Vehicle course’s curriculum and quality leader Alastair Fleming and technician Murray Miller – were rewarded for their dedication through donations to their chosen charity, St Margaret of Scotland Hospice, for whom they raised a superb total of £845.

They joined 29 other teams who took in the spectacular scenery of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia and Czech Republic before arriving at their final destination in the Czech capital.

But before setting out, the students, under the watchful eye of their lecturers, had to work hard to get their cars in shape for the race, which took place in September.

But the repair work, like the trip itself, proved to be an amazing learning experience for the students.

Allister Linstead said: “Getting to drive cross country was an opportunity we may never get again so I’m delighted I was selected to be part of the team.

“As a team we got on great, which was just as well given that we had to spend up to nine hours a day in a car with each other.

“There was a great sense of team spirit across all the teams and everyone helped each other when needed.

“We were fortunate not to have any problems with our cars but others weren’t so lucky. Murray came to the rescue of the MG team who needed a whole new set up breaks fitted at the side of the road.

“It really was an awesome trip and given the chance, I’d jump at doing it again.”

David added: “It really was a trip of a lifetime. For me it was all about the scenery and driving meant we got to see parts of countries that you wouldn’t normally get the chance to see.

“The Stelvio Pass in Italy was the most challenging part of the journey. The bends are so sharp that we could see cyclists falling off their bikes but luckily we managed to get through it unscathed.”

One of the vehicles – an out-of-use Renault Megane – was donated by Whitecrook man Michael Smith and required some serious work to make it not only roadworthy, but able to cope with a round trip of more than 4000 miles.

Michael had considered selling or even scrapping the car but decided to speak to the College because he knew of their Motor Vehicle department.

He explained: “I had the car for six years when the exhaust from the backend went. I got it fixed and unbelievably, on the same day as it was fitted, the timing belt went too.

“My wife suggested donating it to the College. I knew they had a Motor Vehicle department so I came down and spoke to Alistair Fleming, who was more than happy to take it off my hands.

“Later he told me about their plans to take it across the country as part of the Banger Rally. I was delighted that they were able to put it to good use.

“My wife and I are delighted to see it doing something worthwhile and it’s great to see the car with a new lease of life. Congratulations to all the students involved.”

Alastair Fleming, who rallied the group together for the trip, added: “It was a tough but an enriching challenge to help raise money for St Margaret of Scotland Hospice.

“The students were selected based on their achievements and qualifications, including having a full, clean driving licence.

“The boys put the skills learned over the past couple of years to good use. They’ve proved they’ve got the ability so we had every faith in them.”

The total raised for St Margaret of Scotland Hospice was raised to £1334, after the students’ Motor Vehicle colleagues organised a car wash event which added £489 to the donations for the Rally.

Hospice Chief Executive Sister Rita said: “The students and lecturers who took part in this activity have gone to amazing lengths to support us and we are truly grateful for that.

“It is wonderful to hear about the learning experiences they have had and how the local community and College have clubbed together to make this possible for them.

“And of course, we are delighted that their efforts in the Rally have raised vital and welcome funds for the worthiest of causes.”

The department were commended for their efforts in a recent lunchtime ceremony at the Clydebank Campus.

The JustGiving page for the WCS rally team is still open if you would like to donate. Please go to

Special thanks to JLC in Dumbarton, German Auto Care, Zero Seven Graphics, Your Radio and Clyde Kitchens for their kind sponsorship.