Paddy Hopkirk Gala cash to support SKIDZ’ work with youngsters

May 31, 2014 by Beatty Crawford  

Buckinghamshire-based young people’s charity SKIDZ is to benefit from funds raised at a 50th anniversary celebration of Patron Paddy Hopkirk’s 1964 Monte Carlo Rally victory. The event in February this year brought together some of motorsport’s greatest personalities and 200 Minis in Paddy’s hometown, Belfast, to commemorate his famous win in a Mini Cooper S. It was organised by his friend Dr Beatty Crawford. Featuring a cavalcade of Minis, which travelled from Stormont via the City Hall to the Titanic Slipway, and the auction of a specially commissioned Art Mini featuring the work of artist Niall Shawcross, the day concluded with a Gala Dinner at Titanic Belfast with a final fundraising figure of £55,000.

The money will be split between SKIDZ, which provides motor vehicle study courses for disadvantaged young people aged 13 – 19+ years old and those at risk of becoming NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training), and the Integrated Education Fund of Northern Ireland (IEF). The IEF works with over 60 integrated schools to dismantle barriers created by the different religions. The two organisations are already in talks to see if they can work together to launch a pilot Belfast motor studies project in line with SKIDZ’ plan to extend its operation across the UK over the next five years.

Paddy, who lives in Penn, Buckinghamshire, was in Belfast last week to receive the donation on behalf of SKIDZ where he joined Baroness May Blood, Chair of the Integrated Education Fund. Poignantly, Patricia McConnell, the widow of Graham McConnell, also attended the presentation. Her late husband built the 33EJB Mini replica car which was used in the build up to the gala and was driven by Paddy in the cavalcade from Stormont to City Hall. Sadly, Graham died shortly before the event took place. The mini is now being hired out to raise money for charity.

Paddy said: “Both these fantastic charities do so much to enhance and improve the lives of young people. When I set out on my career in motorsport all those years ago little did I think that my professional work would end up putting something back into helping young people today. I’m delighted that SKIDZ intends to use this donation to help finance the launch of a SKIDZ operation in Belfast and I hope that local businesses, schools and colleges will support this initiative which has proved so successful in Buckinghamshire. I would like to thank Beatty Crawford and his committee for organising such a marvellous occasion, and it was particularly nice that Patricia McConnell joined us yesterday as her late husband Graham had played such an important role in the project. Graham dedicated so much of his time and energy into creating the replica mini for the gala but I also fondly remember Graham as tremendous character who for many years provided sterling service to the RNLI as Coxon of the Donaghadee Lifeboat in County Down. Graham was a great man who will be sadly missed.”

SKIDZ CEO Graham Andrews said: “With both SKIDZ and the IEF receiving a share of the proceeds from the Paddy Hopkirk Gala, and each organisation working with young people, it seemed appropriate to examine the feasibility of establishing a ‘pilot’ project in partnership in Belfast. We are immensely grateful to the Gala organisers for raising such a fantastic sum of money which will help so many young people.”

To find out more about SKIDZ courses and how to get involved or to make a donation visit: www.SKIDZ.org.uk


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