It was bitterly cold, wet and generally just miserable this morning (Saturday 3 February) – however at the former B&Q building in Craigavon, things were looking bright, despite the sporadic low lying cloud.
Bright, due to the fact that a vast array of all things motoring had come together at this massive venue with some famous faces under one roof to boot, all in the name of charity.
That charity – ‘Reach mentoring’, exists ‘to journey alongside young people’.
Partnering with local schools to empower young people to be the best version of themselves, Reach Mentoring believe that no young person should ever have to walk alone and as such, Reach engages with young people who have behavioural issues, low self-esteem, a difficult home-life and self-destructive behaviours.
Reach mentors students across the entire community within 22 schools in the Lurgan, Portadown and Craigavon area, delivering over 10,000 face-to-face contacts per year to over 300 young people. Staff and volunteers are committed to journeying with the student and school for at least one term to continually review the mentee’s progress and encourage them to be the best possible version of themselves.
A worthy cause, I feel you would agree and at 10am the doors opened thanks to Gareth Wilson, Lord Mayor of ABC Council; Colin Turkington, two-time British Touring Car Champion and Rev. Robin Brown of First Portadown Presbyterian Church.
Supercars, classic cars, competition cars and vintage cars could be viewed indoors in abundance along with some motorbikes and it is credit to the many owners, who braved the cold and wet to bring many a pride and joy out of winter storage for the public and enthusiasts alike to enjoy.
On offer during the day were free activates for children such as virtual reality (hosted by GAME), rally gaming, a climbing wall and even creative crafts – these all seemed to be very well received and as a family day out, made it much more enjoyable.
During the event, local motoring correspondent Ian Lynas, took to the stage with some of our best home-grown driving talent for light conversation, enthralling the respectable crowd that had gathered to listen.
Rallying greats such as two-time Irish tarmac champion, Andrew Nesbitt and Kenny McKinstry who also enjoyed two Irish tarmac titles as well as a British national series victory, along with Garry Jennings, a former Irish tarmac champion, enjoyed reminiscing the good old days of the sport.
Two men from the world of historic rallying, Drew Wylie and Wesley Patterson enjoyed a good yarn with Ian whilst local internet rallying sensation [some would say mad-man] Frank Kelly, best known for his exuberant driving style in ‘baby blue’, his beloved Ford Escort MkII, was as jovial as ever.
Denis Biggerstaff was in attendance, a name most will have heard and is perhaps, one of the most decorated of our local drivers with a surplus of sprint and hill climb championships under his belt alongside two Northern Ireland rally championships as well as British Rallycross honours and with it, the coveted ‘GB1’ door number on his Metro 6R4.
It wasn’t just about rallying though as circuit racers, Colin Turkington and Wayne Boyd represented our successful racing fraternity. Wayne Boyd gained recognition and many accolades within the British Formula Ford series before moving into Formula 3 and then onto selected races in the States.
Boyd is one of those over-talented drivers who has never had the chance to fully prove himself, with mostly sporadic appearances due to budget constraints, but when Wayne does get onto the grid, you can be sure, he will also be on the podium!
Double BTCC champion and 2017 BTCC series runner up, Colin Turkington was on-hand with the BMW Racing Car in which he claimed his last championship and alongside chatting about his career with enthusiastic Lynas, gave the public his time for pictures, signatures and a yarn.
When asked about the day and the charity involved, Turkington commented “It’s great to see such a strong turnout here this morning and just echoing what the Lord Mayor said, there is a fantastic range of cars on show and I am delighted to be here with my family, supporting a great cause in the Reach charity”.
Colin continued “I am sure you all will join me in digging deep and filling the charity buckets today, we are delighted to be supporting such a great cause, so I wish everyone a fantastic day, I will be about [the show] and look forward to speaking to everybody”.
Outside the venue was a little more boisterous, North Armagh Motor Club hosted an ‘autotest’ demonstration, whilst those brave enough, could get to grips with the thrill of entry level motorsport in the passenger seat of a production car in an ‘autosolo experience’.
This glimpse at motorsport was very well received and most braved the wind-chill to enjoy motoring poetry around a set course with passengers going from grimace to a smile that will last a lifetime, especially for the kids who got a high-octane adrenaline rush.
With road safety being an integral part of all things motoring [Read our articles on road safety after spending a day with PSNI Road Traffic here] the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service set up a ‘real-life’ crash scenario from which the vehicle occupants got extracted with the help of cutting equipment etc.
For those in any doubt about what our services have to face with careless and dangerous driving, this demonstration should have got a message across and sunk in a little and if just one person slows down a bit, then I guess it could be called a worthy exercise.
After ‘the big auction’ was had, a figure in excess of £1,000 was raised for Reach Mentoring, via this event – a credit to all involved within the automotive scene and I hope many young people can benefit.
Words and Photos: Graham Curry
[images must not be used in any way without prior written consent of the photographer]