Bournemouth short haul

How much does a Boeing 737 weigh and how quickly could you and 19 friends pull one a distance of 50 metres? Michele Hardy, Chair of the East Dorset and New Forest Branch has more idea than most because she takes part regularly in the Dorset Plane Pull, happening in Bournemouth on August Bank Holiday Monday.

"It's been going for 10 years, this is the 11th year, it's gradually got bigger and bigger," said Michele. "This year there are 40 teams doing it. Originally it was just for MND and a local Air Cadets group."

Michele is looking around for a team of 20 to pull the 35,000 kilo jet over the course and is confident of plenty of willing bodies to haul the airliner the required distance.

"This year Caterpillar Marine UK have got us as their charity of the year for the next two years and they've asked to have some people in as well. Then I just round up friends and family. If I'm any short, I'll go back to the people who did it last year because most of the people who've done it want to do it again. It's harder than it looks."

Michele is counting on the help of Annie Allen who is living with MND. "She's coming along. Five of her friends did it last year but a lot more of them want to do it this year. A local advertising company last year supplied the other 15 pullers," says Michele.

The East Dorset and New Forest Branch has just had its Walk to d'Feet MND and Michele makes the case for old school fundraising, using a paper sponsorship form along with a social media page.

"If you just ask people for a couple of quid people always say, 'Oh you can have more than that.' I was surprised how easy it was to get 300 pounds and was thinking if all our walkers had had a sponsor form, they probably would have found it easier to get sponsorship than they think."

And waving a paper form at friends and colleagues is a way of spreading awareness of MND, says Michele. "People stop to ask you questions about MND as well. It helps to get the word out a little better. Most people don't know what MND is."

And how quickly does a team pull the 737? The pull has been clocked at between 25 seconds and two minutes. Maybe not quick enough to get the jet airborne but more than enough time to raise funds in an original way.

Words by Keiron Henderson - Volunteer writer

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