Back in 2016, Jennie Steenkamp from RC Baker Ltd in Barford St Michael had a vision … to create a spectacular Christmas Tractor Run to raise funds for Katharine House Hospice.

From small beginnings

In December that year, 26 tractors decorated in twinkly Christmas lights proceeded through Adderbury and the surrounding villages and the Banbury Christmas Tractor Run was born, raising just over £2,000 for the hospice. Jennie had no idea that she had created the most anticipated Christmas event in Oxfordshire and by the end of 2023, 100 tractors were taking part each year and over £146,000 had been raised for Katharine House.  

Jennie said, "The tractor run was really just an idea that I had to have a bit of fun! As a large-scale agricultural contracting business, we had a lot of tractors at our yard and our staff always worked so hard throughout the year, as do the whole of our fellow farming community, and I thought doing something at Christmas time could be a bit of fun for everyone."

At first, it wasn’t easy for Jennie to try and explain the concept to her family, let alone the staff at RC Baker Ltd, but fortunately a few of them grasped the idea and before she knew it, they were busy making plans.   

"The first year really blew me away. I will never, ever forget standing in our yard on that first evening and seeing all the tractors driving towards us covered in fairly lights. It was incredible and looked even better than I had imagined, everyone had gone to so much effort!"

Support for Katharine House Hospice

When deciding which charity to support, Jennie and her family didn’t give it a second thought, Katharine House is very close to their hearts, ever since Jennie’s dear grandfather, Ray Marcham, spent his final days in the wonderful care of the hospice in the January of 2004.   

"We have always chosen Katharine House when we have done any fundraising because of the amazing care they gave to Ray. I never anticipated that this event would be such a huge fundraiser and I couldn’t be happier that it has turned into such a massive success. It is such a great way to support and celebrate the wonderful work of the hospice."

The Banbury Christmas Tractor Run has grown and grown, with more local farmers signing up and the route extending village by village. By 2019, there were 100 tractors on the run and the event raised over £10,000. It was starting to become a very popular event but it was 2020 when the Tractor Run really took off. 

The county was in the mist of the Covid pandemic and Christmas was very different, with the county locked down and people unable to spend Christmas with their loved ones. Supporters of the hospice and the Tractor Run came out in their thousands across the villages in Oxfordshire and with no collectors out on the streets, we relied heavily on text to donate, Just Giving and the now very popular Tractor Run Raffle. The support was overwhelming and the event raised over £24,000 for the hospice.  

Jennie said, "2020 was such a difficult year for everyone and I really wasn’t sure we would be able to run the event, but through the support of the staff at the hospice, guidance from Cherwell District Council and lots of hard work we managed to go ahead and I’m so glad that we did. It was such an incredible amount that was raised, particularly during such difficult times." 

The tractor run arrives in Banbury

In 2022, Jennie and the team at Katharine House Hospice decided to go even bigger and extend the route into Banbury! In its seventh year, this was the first time the route had gone into Banbury and it was a huge success with over £27,000 raised for the hospice. Banbury Cross was a sight to be seen, with thousands of people gathered around the cross to watch the tractors come down South Bar Street and back up the Oxford Road towards Adderbury and the hospice. It opened the doors to a whole new bunch of tractor run spectators and fans!

In 2023, the Tractor Run had it’s most successful and record-breaking year when it raised over £49,000 for Katharine House Hospice! Jennie said, "We were absolutely blown away by the incredible support of our eighth Tractor Run and we could not have achieved this staggering amount without each and every supporter. Myself and the team will never forget the crowds we saw and the cheers we heard. It was truly magical, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for coming out to support us and, of course, Katharine House Hospice." 

Thank you to everyone involved

The Tractor Run simply would not exist without Jennie and RC Baker. Jennie starts to organise the event in February each year, to ensure that everything is ready for the big day in December.  

In addition, the event receives a great deal of support from other people in our community; the brilliant farmers who take part each year and spend weeks decorating their tractors to wow the spectators but also to try and win the title of ‘Best Dressed Tractor’. The event also receives support from the local emergency services, Banbury Town Council, Cherwell District Council, plus local businesses who are invited to sponsor a tractor, help cover traffic management costs or donate incredible prizes for the Tractor Run raffle. Even local mobile caterers open up along the route to serve hot drinks and food to keep the spectators warm, donating their profits to the hospice.  

There is also a team of amazing volunteers out on the streets with collection buckets, helping to raise funds for the hospice and, of course, our community of Tractor Run spectators. Every year, thousands of people come out to watch the tractor run and donate thousands of pounds to Katharine House Hospice. The team that help organise the event are always overwhelmed by the generosity of so many people.  

Jennie said, "Looking back to that first event back in 2016, it has grown beyond what I could ever have imagined. To think that we now have to limit the number of tractors on the run and that we’ve raised £146,000 over the years is just unbelievable."

Thank you to everyone that has supported the Banbury Christmas Tractor Run over the years and we look forward to seeing you at the next one! 

Thank you to Matthew Hicks for the middle and bottom photographs on this page.

This year's Banbury Christmas Tractor Run

The Tractor Run takes place this year on 14 December. Find out more about the route and how you can support Katharine House Hospice on our Banbury Christmas Tractor Run page.

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