‘Thomas’ takes on bash

Headshot of Nicolette Barbas
Nicolette BarbasHarvey-Waroona Reporter
VideoThomas the tank engine car

Long-time mates Gino Vitale and Brad Purcell will drive through regional WA in a Thomas the Tank Engine themed VG Valiant Safari wagon in August as part of the annual Variety WA Bash.

The pair will be joined by Brad’s father, David, and will kickstart their journey to Heirisson Island from the Geraldton start line in the blue wagon on August 23.

A mechanic by trade, Mr Purcell has always been interested in the event, but it was not until an appropriate vehicle came along that he decided to take part.

“My friend did the Variety Bash last year and I followed him down south, and they were all having a wow of a time and I thought, that’s it, I’m doing it next year,” he said.

“I got a car pretty much straight away and it was blue and I thought, what’s blue and what do kids like? And that’s how I got the idea for Thomas the Tank Engine.

“It’s probably taken me 10 months to put it together so far, but I’ve loved every minute of it.”

Since deciding to take part in the event, Mr Purcell has raised a decent amount of money for Variety.

“Between the donations from local businesses and our own fundraisers, we have been fortunate enough to raise about $11,000,” he said.

“My dad who lives up in Perth, managed to rally a few businesses there to get on board and support us and Gino spent last weekend making and selling homemade Italian sausages.

“At the end of the day we’re doing it for the fun of the event and to help the sick, disabled and disadvantaged kids.”

Last year was the 30th anniversary of the event which saw a total of $604,000 raised between 32 cars.

This year there are 28 themed cars participating, and Mr Purcell is hopeful the drivers will hit the $800,000 mark.

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