Loving spoonful


Whilst having a whizz round the computer one evening a while back, I came across a site that referred to an event coming up on behalf of the Wooden Spoon Charity, 4X4 On Exmoor. So I got in touch with Trudy Priddy the organiser and asked if I could take a trip down to see what it was all about. After peeling meself out of bed at 3am, on a Saturday morning, Barrie Holt the LRM Chief Marshal came round my place and we loaded up the king cab and slid off down south an hour later at 4am. Of course there was still loads of traffic on the dreaded M25, but we bowled up at the rendezvous for the event at the Moorland Hall in Wheddon Cross well in time for the off. This event has been going now for the last 14 years, and its unique in that there are two disciplines which are run over the two days across Exmoor. There is an Extreme Challenge, and a Jaunt event which are both run on land kindly donated by local land owners and farmers. Both events have a  different road book for the crews to follow on the roads over the moor, which take them to the separate off-road sections where the marshals are waiting to assist them. The Jaunt is made up of a number of off- road sections of varying difficulties and is suitable for families, people of all skill ranges and most types of 4x4. There is nothing too challenging in the Jaunt, but some slightly challenging bits have been added to ensure some excitement, but none of the sections are compulsory. There is a maximum of 36 vehicles on the Jaunt and spaces fill up quickly. The event is non-competitive, so normal vehicle insurance provides cover. However they request that you notify your vehicle insurer. The event has Public Liability Insurance and all off-road sections have the landowner’s permission. 

The Challenge is more demanding than the Jaunt, therefore reasonable skills and a suitable vehicle are necessary. Each team of three vehicles will need at least one winch and as in all extreme challenges some light scratching or damage is possible. There was a maximum of 24 vehicles on the Challenge this time, so if you are interested to try this event in 2012, you had better put it in your diary.


The charity is a brilliant idea that was founded in 1983 and it is dedicated to helping underprivileged children and young people all over the UK and Ireland to be able to live happier and richer lives. The charity is partnered with the UK rugby community, and the 42 regions signed up to it receive a lot of support for their activity’s from them, and it helps a lot to raise awareness of the work they do. The regions undertake various fund raising activities, and all the money they raise is spent on projects in their own community. That way the benefit of that committees work is always immediate, visible and lasting. A lot of the rugby playing legends are Wooden Spoon Ambassadors and the Lead Ambassador is England's most capped player Jason Leonard OBE, and all 5 Unions and the RFL are also patrons. The Royal Patron is HRH The Princess Royal who generously gives a lot of her time to the charity. Up until July 2010 the Devon Wooden Spoon committee had donated 18 amounts to various projects for disadvantaged kids, ranging from a whopping £205,000 for a unit in Dartmouth for homeless youngsters, to £3,000 for The Wheelchair Terrace at Plymouth Albion Rugby Club. On the weekend of the 4X4 event over £14,000 was raised which came from the entrants and their sponsors, and this amount tipped the total raised by Devon Wooden Spoon volunteers to over 1 million pounds. 


We caught up with Geoff Norman the Chief Marshal and he gave us a copy of both road books and he told us where the main action was likely to be on both events. So after Barrie sorted out a route, we double drove and did our best to visit as many of the Jaunt and Extreme sections that we could find, and pretty soon my cameras were running hot. The weather was marvellous all weekend, and it was a delight to be in such a glorious part of England. There's no doubt about it though, that if you run an event like this and remove that competitive edge by making it clear that there will be no winners or losers at the end of the day, just how much everyone relaxes and chills out, and it turned into a fun weekend with everyone helping each other whenever anyone lost traction or got stuck. Well done to all concerned you did a top job, and we at LRM will definitely be back for more in 2012.