A LIFEBOAT volunteer and police officer unveiled his team’s special RNLI-themed rally car ahead of a mammoth 1,300-mile road trip.

Dan Bellingham, 39, a volunteer for Harwich RNLI, will tackle his journey with his two colleagues Tom Raes and Grant Fryatt.

The three Essex Police officers entered the Screwball Rally to raise funds for St Helena Hospice and the RNLI.

They decided to donate to two charities close to their hearts.

The rally will see the trio travel through France, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg in a 17-year-old BMW worth just £550.

As road policing officers, the trio are more accustomed to administering the breathalyser tests.

But they will be subject to the test each morning throughout the five-day rally.

“We don’t get the next destination until we are breathalysed every morning, so they make sure that we are not drunk and can safely drive,” the team said.

“This is going to be an adventure for us.”

Lifeboat volunteer Mr Bellingham, of Ramsey Road, Dovercourt, said: “People don’t really realise how important Harwich RNLI really is.

“I think there should be more awareness.

“About 95per cent of the money they use on the missions is from donations.

“It is very important people donate to Harwich RNLI to keep the community safe.”

Mr Bellingham added: “I think that if you are able to live close enough, you should do something for the community.

“I volunteer to set a good example for my children.

“It is really important for people, like us, to do events and to donate, every penny helps.”

The three officers have raised almost £3,000 so far.

They said: “We would like people to donate even more.

“The rally has a prize for the team who raises the most.

“The winners can return next year for free and we would like to do so, to help Harwich RNLI and another charity.”

The rally is self-funded and all money raised will be split evenly between the two charities.

The trio said they really appreciate the sponsorship and donations offered so far.

Police Mutual paid for their insurance, Winning Smiles sponsored the servicing, while FunkeeFish completed the car’s wrapping.

The car, which was unveiled at Harwich lifeboat station, in The Quay, on Wednesday, is inspired by the Severn-class lifeboat - right down to a replica of the aerial on the roof.

Mr Raes overcame skin cancer after a shock diagnosis last year at the age of 31.

With his mum working for a hospice in South Devon, the officer understands all too well how vital care and support is for terminally ill patients.

The team said: “With the frightening statistic that one in two of us will get cancer, we want to help stop this awful disease before it stops us or our loved ones.”

Tom, Dan and Grant set off on their journey on Wednesday, September 18.

To donate, visit gofundme.com/screwball-rally-2019.