The Integrated Education Fund (IEF) and SKIDZ charities will share £55,000 following the Hopkirk Gala event that brought international motorsporting personalities and 200 Minis to Belfast in February.
The event, the brainchild of Dr. Beatty Crawford a former international co-driver, was instigated to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Paddy Hopkirk’s victory in a Mini Cooper S on the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally. “I am delighted that this event has raised such considerable funds for these two very worthwhile charities. It has justified all time and the support that we received from the sponsors and supporters who became involved and for the two years that our committee spent in pre-planning the big day,” said Dr. Crawford at cheque handover.
On the morning of the 22nd February 2014 Paddy Hopkirk led the John Mulholland Motors cavalcade of 200 Minis from Stormont via the City Hall, (where they were received by the Lord Mayor), before moving on to the Titanic Slipway.
That afternoon the public were entertained by the spectacular Northern Ireland Plastics Autotest and the day climaxed when Paddy Hopkirk welcomed over 540 guests to the Gala Dinner in Titanic Belfast.
The guests included the former World Rally Champion Ari Vatanen, the five times British Rally Champion Jimmy McRae, and the five times Grand Prix winner John Watson and a host of other rallying personalities.
Under the theme ‘Made in Belfast’ Phil Coulter, Margaret Keys, Olivia Nash, and the Bright Lights Dancers provided the evening entertainment and a specially commissioned Art Mini was sold by Wilson’s Auctions which raised an amazing £17,000 for the charities.
On the 27th May Terence Donnelly, on behalf of the Hopkirk Gala Committee, whose company the Donnelly Motor Group donated the Mini that Niall Shawcross transformed into a unique work of art, handed over the cheque in Paddy Hopkirk’s presence.
Speaking in Donnelly’s showroom in Boucher Road Belfast, Paddy Hopkirk said.
“I am deeply grateful to the organisers of the Gala which was a memorable and remarkable occasion and has raised substantial funds for two charities which are so close to my heart, The Integrated Education Fund and SKIDZ.” “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 little did I think that my professional work would end up putting something back into helping young people today. I would like to thank everyone who supported my Gala and those who gave so generously to two very worthy causes.” “I’m also delighted that SKIDZ intends to use their donation to help finance the launch of a operation in Belfast and I hope that local businesses, schools and colleges will support this initiative which has proved so successful in England.”
The Integrated Education Fund is the independent charity which supports parents in Northern Ireland who wish their children to attend integrated schools where they learn together, on a daily basis, in an environment which celebrates traditional and cultural diversity. Currently there are 62 integrated schools comprising of around 22,000 children. ‘
SKIDZ provides motor vehicle study courses for young people (13 –19+ years), helping the especially disadvantaged and those at risk of becoming NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training). SKIDZ students have gone on to obtain apprenticeships and carve out careers in the motor industry.
Based in Buckinghamshire, SKIDZ now plans to launch its programmes nationwide through forging partnerships with schools, colleges, businesses and like-minded organisations. Belfast will be the first step on its national roll out scheme.