EGP07 on reflection

EGP07  - On Reflection
For our sixth annual fund raising weekend I had harboured a desire to move into Europe. A chance conversation with Lotus on Track supremo Paul Golding at the Brands Hatch Historic meeting in June 2006 was the catalyst I needed. He offered me the privately owned race track , Abbeville Stadium, in Northern France. This was manna from heaven !

In August with my wife and children we visited France to see the lie of the land.  I have always loved the upmarket resort on Le Touquet known as 'Paris by the sea'. We chose the best hotel ,The Westminster, and reserved 60 double rooms ( this eventually peaked at 72 rooms) with dinner and breakfast at a negotiated rate of £169 per room. A trip to Abbeville and the 15 corner , 1.6 mile track was all we had hoped for. My only slight worry was the cost to guests of getting there and taking part in all things on offer and having enough money left for the auction! Ferry/tunnel..£50-100, GoKarts £25, Microlights  £20. My earlier worries were unfounded as all places sold out almost immediately. 

 


We all set sail for France on the Sunday and met up in a convoy of 72 cars at the Cafe du Commerce for baguettes in Crecy-en-Ponthieu....a basic, friendly place used by Lotus tours in the past. This village was famous for the huge battle in 1346 when the British thrashed the French....we did have an advantage though. They had crossbows , we had longbows ( used for the first time), so by all accounts it was a slaughter. No matter we were made very welcome by the Mayor who had cordoned off part of the town square for parking.

Our evening started at the Westminster with a group photograph and a fantastic dinner. The chef understandably was Michelin starred. First of all Louise Warren, head of care at Little Havens, gave an emotional 5 minute speech and you could have heard a pin drop. 

Our speaker and special guest this year was Nick Loudon one of the great motorsport snappers of the 60s and 70s. He regaled us with tales of friendships with Clark, Fittipaldi, Rindt and all the greats. I had a job to stop him talking ! 

Our charity auction followed. 

This year our auctioneer was the very highly regarded author Robert Edwards. He is Stirling Moss' official biographer and wrote the best seller Archie and the Listers....the great story of Brian Lister and Archie Scott Brown who together took on the might of Jaguar and Aston Martin in the 50s and beat them in the Listers....incidentally a $30 million dollar film of the book is in progress.

Nick Loudon had printed some very special images especially for the night.
I had them mounted,framed and signed by John Surtees, Clive Chapman, Clarks mechanic Cedric Selzer and many others. Motorsport artist Andrew Kitson, a guest, donated a large number of his prints which raised circa £5000. Amongst others...Sir Frank Williams, Alan Henry, Patrick Head and Martin Brundle were happy to sign them for us.

The auction lots were paraded by our two glamorous blondes Holly & Helen who were a great hit with our red-blooded gentleman(?) guests.

A total of £11,500 was coaxed out of guests by Robert...a splendid effort.
The evening ended at 1pm. Following that there was some unusual behaviour as one guest was tied up with some rather expensive curtain ties, another of our number played his bagpipes at 2am and Robert Edwards was coaxed into a valuable wheeled Louis XV chair and pushed at high speed in the foyer....sudden braking caused him to be jettisoned into the air and he crashed landed on all fours. The Hotel didn't bat an eyelid. The only comment came from a spectating French guest...'Ah ! Les Anglaises'

Monday morning's sky was very grey as we made the short Autoroute trip to Abbeville...in fact the rain held off till late afternoon. It was open pit all day so on track everyone got their money's worth. 

 Other disciplines on offer were Microlight flights, a 2 hour GoKart endurance race and pax rides with Andy Walsh in the SinclaireMotorsport Camel Honda Elise. A BBQ lunch was served in a nearby Motel.

 

The heavens opened at 5 pm as we headed home. A great weekend.

As you read this the fund for the Hospice stands at £20,000 and rising...but bear in mind it costs £6000 a DAY to operate.

Websites associated with the weekend

www.andrewkitson.com

www.carlimits.com Andy Walsh

www.lotus-on-track.com Paul Golding

www.sinclairemotorsport.com  Camel Honda Elise