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Charity event cancelled

PUBLISHED: 05:37 27 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:20 24 February 2010

One of the region's fastest-growing charity events has been cancelled after the son of the controversial "Aussie" Earl of Stradbroke demanded £1000 to use his family's land as a starting point for a rally.

One of the region's fastest-growing charity events has been cancelled after the son of the controversial "Aussie" Earl of Stradbroke demanded £1000 to use his family's land as a starting point for a rally.

Organisers of the East Suffolk Tractor Road Run said they were dismayed after 19-year-old Henham Rous, of Henham Hall Estate, near Southwold, said he planned to charge them to begin the rally from his land.

The popular event, which has started from the estate for the last four years without any fee, was due to be held on May 4 with the proceeds going to the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

But after months of preparations, the organisers were forced to abandon this year's event after they were unable to find another suitable site at short notice.

Henham Rous, the fifth son of the earl, Keith Rous, said the decision to implement the charge was taken "in the best interests of the estate" after amicable conversations between the parties.

"It is the first time we have decided to charge them to use the land and the decision was made by myself after discussions between myself, my father and Dennis Garbutt, an organiser," he said.

"We are disappointed with the way things have panned out. But at the end of the day each party had to do what was in its best interests."

But Mr Garbutt, from Oulton Broad, who helped organise the rally, said he was "gutted" a solution could not be found in time to save this year's event.

"It is just tremendously disap-pointing," he said. "A lot of hard work went into organising the event and we were just finalising the plans when we found out about this.

"I tried to look for alternative sites that were big enough and had the hard standing we need for the tractors, but unfortunately I could not find anywhere suitable at short notice.

"I did talk to Henham Rous and he was very helpful. He explained to me the money was needed for the upkeep of the park and I understand these big estates cost a lot to run. We came to a decision very amicably."

Up to 90 vintage tractors were expected to attend the 20-mile jaunt around Suffolk to raise money this year.

Mr Garbutt estimated that more than £12,000 had been raised for charity since the event began.

Last year money went to the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston to help fund a glucose monitoring machine for diabetics.

Henham Rous came to Britain from his native Australia around two months ago to take over running the Henham Hall Estate, which inspired his name, from current manager Sean O'Neill.

His father Keith, a twice-married 65-year-old father-of-15, owns the estate in Suffolk, land in Australia and property in Sydney.


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