Friends of the TRNC Emergency Services
Afternoon Tea Talk – Racing for Britain – By Steve Sydenham
At last the Tea Talks have resumed at the Mountain View Hotel and the subject this month was to be Racing for Britain by Steve Sydenham recalling his experiences of his time with the racing circuit and Formula 1.
The usual afternoon tea of sandwiches and cakes arrived, followed by tea or coffee and Mike Plant took the opportunity to welcome everyone and give some information about forthcoming events which include the Quiz Night on 29th September, a 60’s Gig on 12th October, a Treasure Hunt around Girne on 18th November and the Christmas Sing Along which is being arranged for hopefully 3 evenings, but no dates are available at the moment. Mike gave the good news of the proceeds from the recent talk at the Pia Bella Hotel which was 2,600TL. Brenda told the audience that the amount raised to date for the supply of equipment to Girne State Hospital is 110,000TL The raffle and Mike’s goodie bag would follow after the talk and the figure which had been raised at the Tea Talk that afternoon was 520TL – another good result for the Friends of the TRNC Emergency Services.
There were representatives of the Near East Bank present to promote their new Personal Accident Insurance and application forms were available on the tables. David Hillier gave a brief resume of the scheme and asked the audience to complete the forms if they were interested in this cover, which is very reasonably priced. He said there would be a raffle later using the completed forms which would give a year’s free cover to the lucky winner. In actual fact when this was drawn my sister, who had accompanied me that afternoon, won the draw.
Steve Sydenham was introduced to the audience and he gave a very interesting talk about his experiences with motor racing in the UK. Steve lived in New Zealand for a few years and it was there that he became interested in motor racing and felt he would like to do something to help the young drivers in the UK with organising sponsorship and funds to enable them to achieve their aims to compete in Formula 1 motor racing.
Heathrow Airport, where Steve worked when he returned to the UK, was very supportive of his quest and this enabled him to be able to put a lot of time into getting Racing for Britain started, he was quick to mention that his wife also helped tremendously, looking after all the administration work.
There were a lot of ups and downs in getting sponsorship but it was achieved and eventually Steve was able to quit his job at Heathrow and work full time on a salary to help fund the up and coming young drivers. Being so involved with motor racing of course, Steve met many of the top names in Formula 1. There was a list on each of the tables of 19 drivers who had been helped by Racing for Britain, which included Damon Hill.
There were many pictures and memorabilia on display and Steve told of the time he was awarded a trophy for his services to motor racing, of which he is immensely proud. This was also on display for the benefit of the audience.
Gradually over the years it became harder to raise sponsorship and despite some misgivings Steve was persuaded to make Racing for Britain a commercial venture with partners. Unfortunately this did not work out and at the end of the day Steve decided to move away from the racing scene altogether which was very sad after all of the hard work he had put into it over the years.
Another disappointment was his dream to go back to New Zealand, which he loved, and despite eventually being accepted to live there again, circumstances at the time meant he was unable to fulfil his dream of returning to a country he had so much affection for.
I asked Steve after the talk if he had ever driven a racing car and he told me he had on one occasion which was a thrilling and exhilarating experience.
The raffle then proceeded with some nice prizes and this was followed by Mike’s famous goodie bag with an assortment of much sought after salt and pepper pots. This always results in a lot of laughter thanks to Mike’s description of the various items and always gives a good finish to the afternoon.
By Margaret Sheard