FX Plus Head of Accommodation Services, Tony Eyles, and his son Harry, a Falmouth University Photography student, have been combining their love of motorsport with supporting a military veterans' charity.
Mission Motorsport is a charity dedicated to helping rehabilitate former service men and women who have been discharged due to catastrophic injuries, many of which cannot be seen. Funded solely through donations and fundraising, with support from Help for Heroes, it boasts Sir Stirling Moss as patron.
Just five years old, Mission Motorsport has already helped more than 1,400 people affected by military operations by rebuilding confidence; showing how their skills can be adapted to civilian life; helping them learn new trades and regain their independence and providing vocational support. It has secured more than 200 placements and nearly 90 jobs for its beneficiaries. "Race, Retrain, Recover" is its slogan and mantra.
Mr Eyles, who has no military background, became aware of the charity through his love of motor sport. In November he and son Harry - a Falmouth University Photography student -travelled 400 miles to the far north western tip of Wales to attend the Race of Remembrance at Anglesey Race Circuit. The race is organised by Mission Motorsport.
He explained: “I only knew of the charity because I met and became friends with the CEO, Jim Cameron, at various track days at the Nurburgring over the past decade. Whilst Harry and I had volunteered our time to help with ‘a noble cause’, truth be told we partially put ourselves forward because it involved mucking around with cars on a track for a weekend. Oh how wrong we were.”
Mr Eyles is now working to get a South West base set up for the charity.
He said: “At the race, there were an eclectic mix of 47 cars, from racing Lotuses to Citroen C1s, including four cars fielded by Mission Motorsport themselves. Jim asked me to be one of the four race team managers for the weekend yet having met the team and some of the beneficiaries, discovered what a difference Mission Motorsport has made and is making to their lives, Race of Remembrance was a truly humbling experience which has had quite a profound effect on both Harry and me.
“Being part of the race team, Harry and I were in the thick of it with the other three Mission Motorsport teams, sharing a couple of pit lanes between the four cars. The lead car was a converted Honda CRV 4x4, not an obvious choice, but necessary for the higher seating position required by some of the beneficiary drivers. Indeed, the lead driver and chief mechanic had one leg between them, yet this in no way impeded their performance, skill and commitment to the race and it was, quite frankly, breath-taking to behold.
“However, the highlight of the weekend was the Remembrance Service. It was an extraordinarily powerful experience even for me, someone who is not ex-military, who has never experienced the horrors of active service, who lives in a secure little bubble on the end of a Cornish headland, but to spend the service with 300 ex-servicemen and women, to whom the service really means something was just extraordinary.
"The Mission Motorsport team is understandably incredibly proud of what it has achieved and is achieving. It is a trite and often overused phrase to describe things as ‘life changing’ but the care, support and comradery it provides is demonstrably life changing for those involved and, in some cases, genuinely life-saving. Harry and I were honoured to have been included in the event and, disasters notwithstanding, will be at every Race of Remembrance from now on!”
If you want to find out more about Mission Motorsport see: http://www.missionmotorsport.org/
If anyone is interested in getting involved with finding a South West base for the charity, please contact Tony direct: firstname.lastname@example.org