Every so often in life you come across someone so inspiring that it stops you in your tracks. Their passion, enthusiasm and selflessness is impossible to resist and you realise you have to be involved with them, whether it be at work, in love or as in my case, volunteering.
Thanks to the crazy world that is Twitter I came across a devilishly handsome man called Major Jim Cameron MID. I didn't know him as that to begin with I just knew him as a twit called Tankslider until one day, at the Britcar 24hr I had the honor of sharing a holler and a wave as he drove past in one of the Mazda MX5's he was racing for Help4Heroes.
Major Jim Cameron served in Afghanistan as the Warthog Battle Group Commander. On tour he lead his troops though the longest battle yet seen in Afghanistan. Fifty-one days of continuous desert fighting. Although none of Major Cameron's men died, a staggering 10% suffered from life changing injuries. To get an idea of what he does you can read this piece about Peace Street or listen to Major Cameron on his return to the UK here on Audio Boo
On return to the UK Jim was reunited with the casualties from his tour and he decided he had to do something. He wanted to do something. So earlier this year Jim joined forces with Rich Bernard and Gavin Harvey and started a charity called Mission Motorsport. Its aim was simply to help those affected by military operations to 'Race Retrain Recover'. It does this by giving injured troops and veterans the chance to get behind the wheel or under the lid of some incredible race cars and also Powerboats. The charity offers vocational placements with incredible brands, such as Bentley and Nissan who have seen the huge value in working with men who may have suffered injures but have incredible transferable skills from engineering to security to logistics and strategic planning. Mission Motorsport helps soldiers to redefine their careers and offers them an exciting platform to do that from. Just recently three of the charities guys have returned from Classic Le Mans where they worked with Derek Bell as his pit crew.
All of this, has been made easier because of Jim Cameron. His zest for life, his positivity and his passion as well as his knowledge of the motorsport industry, help him to form relationships with exciting companies and high profile supporters and the charity really benefits from his tireless devotion to helping retrain some of the most incredible men you will ever meet.
One meeting with Jim and I knew I had to help the charity where ever I could.
Just before the Festival of Speed an evening was organised, to raise money for Mission Motorsport on board HMS Victory in Portsmouth and I was lucky enough to be able to attend.
Guest speaker for the night was Ben Collins, the man formally known as The Stig. As uncool as it may sound I was looking forward to meeting Ben so much I hardly noticed the dashing Tony Jardine who is also a keen supporter of the charity. Ben has worked with a lot of charities and organisations for the armed forces and supports Help For Heroes. He is a fantastic guy. I'm not going to lie, I have a thing about him dressed as the Stig. In the same way I have a thing about Darth Vader and most motorbikers. The only difference being that I am usually bitterly disappointed when the helmet is removed and out pops a grubby looking pip squeak or a hairy gorilla. With Ben there is no disappointment and I don't mean JUST because he is exceedingly good looking. He is also acutely intelligent and fascinating to talk to. Shame the same couldn't be said of me. I was four glasses of Champagne in before you could even say HEY, NICE TROUSERS MAJOR CAMERON.
After some expert navigations of what turns out to be some pretty tough terrain on board the Victory - Not really a stilettos venue girls - we sat down to eat and get on with business. Raising money and having a fantastic night.
Stig kindly donated his helmet which went on auction with some other fantastic lots including a lovely set of silver tumblers (modeled by Charlie an official volunteer at H4H) a weekend with a Jaguar XF and a late minute edition of a date which included yours truly. What is a bit sad is that Stigs Helmet fetched £1000, Charlies magnificent Tumbers £1050 and an evening with my good self only managed to rake in a measly £250 and whats worse is that the date hasn't been claimed yet so as it stands some man spent £250 to NOT go out with me. Unsurprising to some.
It was an incredible night which raised lots of money for the charity and also helped raise awareness. Which is what I am trying to do now. In two ways.
Firstly I want you all to take a look at the Mission Motorsport website and see what this fantastic charity is doing. You can follow them on Facebook, on twitter and one day maybe on Pinterest if I ever get two minutes with Sue to discuss how and WHY it works.
But I also want to use it to say thank you on behalf of every single person involved in the charity to a very very handsome and extremely special man who will probably kill me for writing this piece but its tough. Freedom of speech and all that.
Jim sometimes its easy, when we are surrounded by such inspirational, gorgeous young men and women, to over look the slightly grey aging bloke who does so much to inspire and create opportunities and who stays ridiculously positive throughout everything. Sometimes its easy to forget how much you have done for our guys before they even came across the charity. So this post is a dedication to you and everything you have done so far. I know each of the guys involved from troops to volunteers feels the same and thanks to a lot of hard work from you, Rich and Gav some inspirational guys have been able to achieve all this
Whilst you are all here I am raising money for Mission Motorsport by cycling a stupidly long way. Get involved with it!! Knockhill2Goodwood
Follow Nancy Atkinson-Turner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/macchinaclub