TEAMS of veterans are taking part in a fundraising banger rally, driving ‘clapped-out’ cars from Dover to Gibraltar, in support of Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.
Ahead of the rally, one team displayed their car at the recent Dumfries Motor Show to raise awareness of the event and the charity.
Stevie Nelson, who is part of the ‘Home Built’ team which also has its own YouTube channel, displayed his impressive Nissan Micra which has been fine-tuned and ready for the 1,500-mile jaunt across Europe.
“The Dumfries Motor Show was brilliant; a lot of people came up to find out more about what we were doing and why we were doing it and we even raised a few extra quid while we were there.
“We’ve got one more thing to do to our car before the rally but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it will successfully make it to Gibraltar.”
The Banger Rally challenges teams of two to four people, one of whom must be a veteran, to buy a car for less than £1,000 and work together to jazz it up. They will then use their mechanical skills (and a bit of determination!) to make their way to Gibraltar.
“I don’t have a military service history myself but I’m the only one in my family who doesn’t. My friends and family know members of the military family who have been affected by sight loss and Blind Veterans UK is close to their hearts. It is therefore an honour to be raising money for this charity while doing something I am passionate about.
“I’ve chosen to split the money I raise between Blind Veterans UK and Cancer Research UK as that is another charity that I care deeply about after my wife had a recent cancer scare.”
Nicola Lafferty, who is a Community Support Worker for Blind Veterans UK, also attended the event and shared a stand with the ‘Home Built’ team to further promote the work of Blind Veterans UK and to be on hand to answer any questions visitors to the event had about the charity.
Organiser of the Banger Rally, John McGowan, said:
“I served myself for 13 years in the Royal Navy and I understand how important military charities are to the veteran community.
“This will be the third veteran banger rally I have organised and each time we decide on a different military charity to support. Blind Veterans UK was chosen by the competitors from last year’s rally.
“I live near the charity’s Centre of Wellbeing in Llandudno, so the charity is one which I am very aware of.”
Each team pays an entry fee to take part with a percentage being donated to Blind Veterans UK. The teams can then pick a charity of their choice to raise money for; many have chosen to take part on behalf of Blind Veterans UK.
“We have raised an incredible £112,000 from the past two events combined for the chosen charities and we hope to raise an amazing amount to help this charity support even more blind veterans.
“This is a great way to make money for a fantastic charity but it’s also an excuse for veterans to get together, enjoy themselves and recapture some of that camaraderie from their days in service. A party atmosphere is almost guaranteed.”
There are now over 30 teams signed up for the event which takes place between 25 September and 1 October.
If you live in North Wales, there are two opportunities to meet your local teams and show them your support before they head off for the rally. The Prestatyn Classic Car Show takes place on Bank Holiday Monday (28 August) and Anglesey Autofest on 16 and 17 September.
If you are part of a group that would like to find out how your special interest or hobby could be used to raise money for Blind Veterans UK please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blind Veterans UK supports thousands of blind veterans across the country but knows there are many thousands more who still need its support to rebuild their lives after sight loss.
If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces, including National Service, and are now struggling with sight loss, then please get in touch. Call 0800 389 7979 or visit: blindveterans.org.uk/support.