Graham Raphael reports on a Motorsport Endeavour mission with a difference – to raise the morale of British soldiers severely injured in battle.
On the 12th July 2016, Motorsport Endeavour was invited by Sahara Force India F1 to attend a test day at the exclusive grounds of the team’s Headquarters, a stone’s throw away from the Silverstone Circuit.
Eight injured soldiers from Motorsport Endeavour attended and it was a day not to be missed.
We got to meet some of the team’s drivers, partake in the famous Paddock Club Pit Lane Walkabout, witnessed the team’s mechanics hard at work in the garage and also watched a live pit stop in action.
A special thank you has to go to Nicola Howard, the Hospitality Executive for her superb hospitality and a very special day.
For the complete photo album of our day, please click here.
On Friday the 21st August 2015, Motorsport Endeavour had a fantastic day at McLaren Technology Centre. The futuristic centre was built to produce over 4,000 McLaren road cars a year and is normally off-limits but MSE was given rare access.
The tour was host by Amanda McLaren (daughter of the late Bruce McLaren) who kindly gave her time to give the tour. She kept us entertained with some very interesting stories.
Through Motorsports I have developed my confidence, self-esteem and social skills. It has encouraged me to meet other military injury personal, thus building friendship.
PTSD is a hidden wound, it is not a clearly visible injury and motorsports is an idea sport, where you can find temporary peace from issues in your mind.
Thank you once again Motorsport Endeavour for the opportunity to visit McLaren’s prestigious Technology centre. These very well organised events are a great opportunity to meet other wounded, injured and sick personnel. Personally from my point of view it encourages my self-confidence to meet a variety of people with one common interest ‘Motorsport’ which Motorsport Endeavour provides through organised events like this.
Motorsport Endeavour plays a crucial role in my recovery by giving me amazingly positive experiences that live long in my memory. Slowly, these memories are replacing the horrors that exist in my mind. I cannot thank the team enough for giving me these opportunities to move on.
This is Motorsport Endevour’s first armed forces day that was held in Swindon on the 27th June 2015. We had a lot of support from the public and the wider armed forces community. We raised awareness and promoted how motorsport supports the recovery of veterans. We have enhance our reputation in what we do. I would like to say a big thank to Dawn and Bill, Mike and his wife Sandy for giving their time up to help out. We raise £90 in total. Selling our club badges and all the Marussia F1 team caps, which was kindly donated By Brian Leach. We have now been given a regularly spot, which is great news.
Cateau Marzac – France – October 2014
Derek Bennett,General Manager of Jack Barclay Bentley together with the staff of the Bentley service operation entertained a group of soldiers,all who were undergoing treatment at DMRC Headley Court.
A tour of the extensive and specialised facilities at Burr Road,Wandsworth was followed by road trips in the range of new Bentleys and ended with a generous spread of refreshments,but not before everyone had been presented with a Jack Barclay Bentley T-shirt and cap.
Vnukovo,Moscow, Russia June 2013
Since 2007 MSE has taken part in the annual Nadazdhe Rally, organised in the Moscow region by MAKI for disabled drivers. In 2008 an ex-soldier injured in the Falklands conflict took part in the rally and last year six blind ex-soldiers travelled to Moscow to compete in the event.
This year will see 75 injured troops from Russia, UK and the US, 25 from each country, travelling to Moscow on June 26th to compete in an off road driving challenge near Vnukovo.
This co-operation between veterans injured in the Afghan conflicts has the support of military authorities of each nation and the list of sponsors reflect this international initiative.
as part of their own 75th anniversary.
Event organisation is by MAKI (Moscow Auto Club for Invalids) co-operating with British Embassy Moscow, US Embassy London and Battle Brotherhood, grouping Russian veteran organisations.
Taking advantage of the media opportunites the project presents, Northamptonshire Enterprise is planning a trade mission. The principal element still to be resolved is that of return air travel for the UK contingent.
For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 020 8991 2358.
October 15th, 2014
Cateau Marzac - France - October 2014 Download the brochure here[...]
It can be done!
Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier
Well, despite the lack of activity on the website quite a lot has been going on.
Firstly some great press;
We are indebted to photographer, John Rouke, for sharing his photos of the the day at Donnington.
by Colin Williamson Cadet Challenge Project Officer
I was fortunate to be part of a group of six Blind Veterans UK members to compete in the Moscow Rally in July. The group included former Royal Marines Steve Sparkes and Alan (Reggie) Perrin and former soldiers Russell Hart, Gary Lomas and Billy Black. We were guests of Graham Raphael, Chairman of Motorsport Endeavour, a charity that supports disabled drivers here in the UK. Graham is a fantastic supporter of our charity and regularly puts on driving events for our members.
The party set off from Heathrow Airport on Thursday 7th June and after a pleasant four hour flight arrived at Domodedovo Airport, 26 miles south of Moscow centre. After a short hiccup over our transport we Hnally set off in a terrific downpour to our hotel on the north east outskirts of the city centre. Moscow is three hours ahead of the UK so by the time we arrived and unpacked it was time to get our heads down ready for the briefing by Graham the next morning. Graham had invited along Alan Thompson, who is the Russia based Director of the Russo/British Chamber of Commerce and who was to play a pivotal role in our Moscow experience.
After the briefing we had some free time to explore our surroundings; the Best Western Vega hotel, which was our base for the visit. lt was one of four hotels in a complex specifically built to accommodate visitors to the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games and each hotel consisted of 900 rooms spread over 27 floors.
That night we were guests of the British Ambassador to Moscow, Tim Burrows, at his residence overlooking the Kremlin, at a reception to celebrate Her Majesty the Queens Diamond Jubilee. Everyone had on their finest and we were all proud to wear our Blind Veterans UK member’s badge which aroused a lot of attention. We spent most of the evening explaining to various guests, both foreign and British nationals, what Blind Veterans UK is all about and how we support our blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women. lt was an unforgettable evening and one that will live in the memory for years to come. On our way back to our hotel we were chaperoned by Alexander, a former Lieutenant Colonel in the Russian Fleet air arm who is the Defence Attaché at the Kremlin. Alexander, (or Sasha as he is known) took time to stop off at every Metro station en—route to show us the bronze statues that adorned the various metro station concourses.
Saturday saw us up early (despite the previous night’s celebrations!) and we ventured into Moscow city centre via the impressive Moscow Metro system. We emerged out of the station at Red Square into glorious sunshine and the most amazing scenery. We explored the square, bought souvenirs from the stall holders, and watched the very impressive changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Alexander Garden at the Moscow Kremlin. The Tomb is a memorial to all those who died in The Great Patriotic War of 1941-45 (as the war on the Eastern Front of World War ll is commonly referred to in Russia). The guards are soldiers of the Kremlin Regiment, a special unit responsible for security of the Moscow Kremlin. We then walked around to Saint Basil’s Cathedral on Red Square which was built on the orders of Ivan the Terrible to commemorate the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan. It is one of the most striking and beautiful buildings l have ever seen; truly awe inspiring.
On Sunday Graham and Alan had arranged a coach tour of Moscow where we were joined by members of MAKI, the Moscow Association of Disabled Drivers, who we were to compete against in the car rally the next day. Despite the abysmal weather, it was pouring down; we all enjoyed the tour, excellently translated into English by Ena, one of the organisers of the rally and one of the founders of MAKI. We passed many historic buildings including the former KGB headquarters, the Communist Party HQ, the world famous Bolshoi Ballet and Opera House and the new British Embassy on the riverside. After the tour, we visited a superb museum that catered for blind and vision impaired people and we were invited to handle the various insects and spiders in the ‘natural world’ exhibit hall. After the museum we were then driven to the 1980 Olympic Velodrome, which doubles as the HQ of MAKI where we were provided with a splendid meal courtesy of our friends at MAKI.
We had to be up at 6am on Monday morning to transfer to the start of the rally which was to be at the Velodrome. Our ’on road’ drivers were to be Alan Thompson, Graham Raphael and the British Assistant Defence Attaché to Moscow, Major Catriona (Katy) Caie. We then split into three teams, sorted out the order we were to start in, prepped our vehicles and started the first part of the rally which was to be a slalom course around cones set up on the car park of the Velodrome. Billy Black was the quickest around the course, setting off at breakneck speed and managing to collect quite a collection oftraffic cones under the vehicle much to the alarm of a police officer who was forced to take evasive action to avoid ending up underneath BilIy’s car!
The ‘road’ stage of the rally then took place, which unfortunately didn’t incorporate an ‘off road’ section, which would have enabled us to get in a spot of driving. But all in all, it was a great day and we covered roughly I4O miles around an area north of Moscow city centre driving along country roads and through small rural villages. Billy Black and I were forced at one point to change one of the rear wheels of our car after it had suffered a blow out when doing a high speed ’U’ turn on a minor road; exciting stuff! The trip was an unforgettable experience and one that I will remember for a long time to come. We met some marvellous people, made some great friends, ‘saw some wonderful sights and hopefully raised the profile of our incredible charity whilst doing so. Thanks must go to Graham Raphael from Motorsport Endeavour for all of his hard work in arranging the trip and my fellow Blind Veterans UK members for their great company and camaraderie during the visit.
On September 11th a very successful visit was paid to the Sahara Force India HQ close to the Silverstone circuit.
After welcoming everyone at 11.00, Nicola Howard of Force India explained how the company had evolved from its beginnings as Jordan F1 and then ,accompanied by Mike from the commercial side of the operation,led the party through all the operations in the factory that are needed to ensure cars are on the grid in 100% condition.
Chassis,suspension,gearbox,electronics were carefully described and there was freedom to take photos at all stages with the exception of the engines.
These are Mercedes units and are looked after by the Mercedes Benz High Perfomance operation at Brixworth.The engine wrapped and in a container ready for transport back to Brixworth had just completed a Grand Prix and the covers were removed as a special favour …but anyone who took photos of it were advised they would be court-martialled and summarily shot.
The tour then moved on to the in-house autoclave where resins are bonded and treated prior to forming a part of the car.
The issue of weight is vital and it was interesting to note that the sponsor names on the car are part of the paint process,not stickers and as there are individual requirements for circuits…as an example certain Middle East GPs will not allow alcohol to be advertised on the car…so for these circuits entire new panels replace those carying unsuitable logos.
Finally,as the party left at 12.45 Nicola gave everyone driver booklets,transfers of the cars and a small bottle of White and Mackay whisky ,one of the sponsors.
Sahara Force India operates on an annual budget considerably lower then most teams but notwithstanding,they are currently 7th in the Constructors Championship and Paul de Resta finished 6th in the Italian Grand Prix.
The group then drove a short distance to the Silverstone circuit entrance for a visit,kindly arranged at short notice by Stuart Pringle,Secretary of the British Racing Drivers’ Club .
The BRDC Clubhouse was the destination .This home of motorracing legends holds memorabilia from the BRDC founding in 1928 by Dr Patrick Benjafield through the years until now,with trophies,photographs and model cars that chart the history of the club .
It is normally extremely difficult to visit ,unless one is a member,and was a superb conclusion to a fascinating time.
Renewed thanks are due to Sahara Force India and the BRDC.