Speedworks show charitable side with support for The Kirsty Club
Front-running Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) outfit Speedworks Motorsport has demonstrated its charitable side by teaming up with north-west organisation The Kirsty Club to help raise vital funds for Francis House Children’s Hospice and Lodge in Manchester.
The Kirsty Club (http://thekirstyclub.com/) was inspired by Kirsty Howard, a remarkable young lady who was born with a rare back-to-front heart condition. With other organs also affected, in February 1999, she was given just six weeks to live but heroically defied all doctors’ predictions, enduring many operations and receiving respite from the age of three-and-a-half at Francis House.
Refusing to let her illness stand in her way, Kirsty made a huge impact as a fundraiser for Francis House and ‘Kirsty’s Appeal’ generated a staggering £5 million, thereby securing the long-term continuation of care at the hospice for children and young people with life-limiting conditions. A further £3.5 million subsequently allowed for the construction of a new, state-of-the-art teenage and young adult wing, Francis Lodge.
Although Kirsty very sadly lost her brave battle in October 2015 at the age of 20, her extraordinary legacy lives on and is reflected in the care provided to the hundreds of children, teenagers, young adults and their families that rely on the hospice in their times of greatest need, with regular fundraisers held throughout the year – to which Speedworks will now contribute.
On 22 May, Team Principal Christian Dick and driver Tom Ingram will enter the Great Manchester Run – Europe’s largest 10k race. This is an event of particular relevance to The Kirsty Club as Kirsty was involved from the start, proudly sporting the #1 race number as she completed the Junior course in her electric wheelchair and later heading the Senior run. Whilst the #1 has since been retired, around 50 runners are expected to represent The Kirsty Club this year, all bearing the Speedworks logo on their shirts. A JustGiving page for Christian and Tom will be launched soon.
“We’re delighted to have made The Kirsty Club our nominated charity for 2016,” affirmed Amy Dick, Team Manager of the Northwich, Cheshire-based squad, which will this season field a Toyota Avensis for Ingram and a Honda Civic Type R for newcomer Matt Simpson in the ITV4 live-televised, all-action BTCC.
“As a local organisation that provides such crucial care to children with short life expectancy, I think it’s fair to say that The Kirsty Club tugs at all of our heart strings and is a fitting tribute to a truly incredible young woman. We are keen to do as much as we can to help Francis House to continue with its wonderful work, and we will be launching a series of fundraising activities over the course of the campaign, with a particular focus on the Great Manchester Run and our home race meeting at Oulton Park in June – so watch this space!”
Since being opened by Diana, Princess of Wales back in 1991, Francis House Children’s Hospice has received high-profile backing from the likes of former Harrods owner Mohamed Al-Fayed, actresses Sue Johnston and Samia Ghadie and classical singer Russell Watson. The Kirsty Club Director Phil Taylor acknowledges that to now similarly have Speedworks’ support is a real boon.
“We’re thrilled that one of Britain’s leading motorsport teams has pledged its allegiance to The Kirsty Club,” he enthused. “It’s an absolute honour for our charity to have Speedworks involved, and for us to be associated with such a prestigious and popular championship as the BTCC is phenomenal.
“Francis House is a loving home where the corridors are filled with laughter and the rooms flooded with light, but the inescapable fact is that between them, the House and Lodge cost more than £4 million per year to run, which is both an enormous task and a significant financial burden.
“Children’s hospices don’t tend to receive as much help from central or local government as adult hospices – it’s mostly down to public donations – but through its various initiatives and a tremendous ongoing investment of time, effort and resources, The Kirsty Club raises essential funds towards those day-to-day costs.
“Now, with Speedworks’ assistance and through the medium of the BTCC and its vast fan base, hopefully we can spread our message far and wide and build an even brighter future for the residents of Francis House and Lodge.”