The Regis Classic Tour was started in 1998 as a one-off event to raise some money for charity and have a great time. Annie Roden & Ali Green are both long time members of Bognor Regis Motor Club Ltd and have been involved in organising many Motorsport events over the years. They gathered a group of willing ladies to run the event and what started as a one off event has run every Spring since 1998. The event was generously and continuously sponsored between 1998 and 2007 by BRMC club member Heather Darwin of Line Up Ltd in Horsham. Her husband Christopher Darwin has also organised several charity track days alongside the tour adding to the charity totals.
The idea was to revive an event run by BRMC in the 1950’s as a tour visiting the “Regis” towns and villages in Southern England. It was also to prove a point, that the ladies could organise a Motorsport event as well as any man! The first tour left Bognor Regis with 36 classic cars and raised just over £8,000 for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. The first tour travelled up the famous Goodwood Hillclimb Course, Ditcham Hill Climb to The George & Falconer at Warnford, Wellow Vineyard for lunch a visit to Eldridge Pope Brewery in Dorchester before cream tea at Althelhampton House. Overnight was based at Portland Island Hotel.
The Sunday leg visited Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens, Lyme Regis, The Donkey Sanctuary, Wiscombe Hill Climb and finished at Allhallows School (now sadly a housing estate!)
At the finish many participants asked where the event was going to next year – and thus 14 years of fun and fundraising has followed, many running full entries of 60 plus cars.
Annie Roden was Clerk of the Course for the first 4 years until the Foot and Mouth crisis hit. 2001 was not an easy year and there was little guidance from the Motor Sports Authority, who, at the last moment withdrew the permit to run the event. This left the girls in a dilemma. The tour that year was based in the south of the country with no outbreaks of Foot & Mouth within the areas being visited. They had also secured a visit and finish at the BAR F1 Factory courtesy of then Team Principle Ian Ross. On top of that The Marriott Hotel in Swindon was threatening to charge for any cancellations.
So in 2001 “The Not The Regis Classic Tour” ran. No fixed route, rest halts at public places including Goodwood Motor Circuit, Stanstead Park Gardens, The Potter’s Heron Hotel at Ampfield and Marlborough Golf Club (still voted the very best tea of any tour before or since!) Overnight at The Marriott Hotel, Swindon. (Which certainly did not live up to the standards set during our visit the previous year).
That year the Sunday leg proved the highlight with a trip to the Cotswold Motor Museum followed by a private tour of the BAR F1 Factory and lunch.
After all the grief in 2001, Annie decided to give it a break. However, Ali felt by then ready to take up the challenge of Clerk of the Course. However, being car sick was never going to prove a very useful affliction for writing the accurate roadbook and Ali (a long term Historic Rally Driver) recruited her then navigator, Ann Locks (who was a previous winner of the Winter Challenge to Monte Carlo) to take on the roll of Route Designer.
To date £316,506.48 has been raised by the ladies and friends of the club, ably assisted by their Menfolk. £111,113.71 has been donated to Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Royal Marsden Hospital Charity £22,069.81, The Prostate Cancer Charity £38,211.56. In 2007 two new charities were chosen Against Breast Cancer and Orchid – Fighting Male Cancer and both benefited by over £72,500 each and fundraising for these two smaller research and awareness charities has continued for 2012.
The tour has visited a host of fabulous venues including: Goodwood Motor Circuit, The Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Factory at Chichester, Wilton House, Exbury Gardens, The Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum, Eastnor Castle, BAR F1 Factory, The Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon and in 2005, when the tour was based in the New Forest, Lord Normanton generously hosted afternoon cream tea at Somerley, helping to boost the funds still further. That year three Lords assisted in the organisation with Lord March at Goodwood allowing a drive up the famous Goodwood House Hillclimb course and Lord Radnor at Longford Castle allowing us to drive through his beautiful parkland estate.
In 2006 the whole event took place on the Isle of Wight, proving excellent experience for the bigger adventure in 2007. Where we practiced the logistics of organising the event “abroad”. A great time was enjoyed by everyone and the island proved to be very welcoming. This was the last time a one night event took place as the majority booked Friday too and better accommodation rates would have applied if we had realised the situation in advance.
Wightlink Ferries offered concessionary rates, The Shanklin Hotel proved very welcoming and the Isle of Wight venues all very pleased to have so many wonderful classic cars touring their home patch. The Classic Boat Museum at Newport and Calbourne Water Mill, plus Arreton Manor and Carisbrook Castle were the Saturday venues. Sunday was Ventnor Botanical Gardens, Rosemary Vineyard and the finish was The Haven Street Station home of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway with a trip on the trains before heading home.
For 2007, the Tenth Anniversary of the Tour, the ladies planned something exciting - the whole event was based just south of Rotterdam in Holland. Hotel Ara at Zwindrecht proved to be very accommodating and Norfolkline offered very generous return ferry terms. We visited The Kinderdyke Windmills, De Biesbosch National Park, Haringvliet Expo, De Rijke Motor Museum, Jan Blanken Dry Dock and the Pumphyus on the Saturday. The Gala Dinner highlight was a pre-dinner drinks reception with entertainment from the Shantychoir of Zwindrecht who had the whole place jumping.
On Sunday Gouda and Schoonhoven were the chosen venues. An optional coach trip to Euromast for supper on Sunday night proved to be an excellent finish to a wonderful event. Grateful thanks to our Dutch friends Carla von Bregt and Henri de Potter – we couldn’t have run the event in Rotterdam without their help and support. The numbers were down due to heading to Europe, it seemed our Tourists prefer the UK!
The tenth event was going to be the last. BRMC member, Heather Darwin of Line Up Aviation Personnel who had sponsored the event since year one, decided to hang up her cheque book. The Ladies thought that everyone had had enough and that the event had reached a natural end. This was not to be, letters and emails poured into the Organisers after the event asking where the Eleventh Tour was heading in 2008. The next problem was the Tour now had no main sponsor and the sponsorship has always been used to cover the cost of the marshals accommodation for the event. Luckily William Frost of Frosts www.frosts4cars.co.uk one of the Southern England’s largest motor dealerships was prepared to take over from Heather and keep the Tour running.
For 2008 the 11th tour headed to Cornwall, “Kernow Coast to Coast” based at Carlyon Bay Hotel at St Austell and visiting, Tregrehan Hill Climb, The Healey Cider Farm, The Tate Modern at St Ives, The National Maritime Museum at Falmouth and King Harry Ferry on the Saturday. Sunday visits were to Prideaux Place at Padstow with the finish at Boconnoc near Lostwithiel. After the success of the Sunday night visit to Euromast in 2007 the team offered a trip on the Bodmin & Wenford Railway with live entertainment and 92 people took up the option and finished the weekend in style. For the first time the annual fundraising topped £30,802.01.
In 2009 “46 Heures du Shropshire” was enjoyed by another full entry based at Albrighton Hall Hotel north of Shrewsbury.
Saturday venues included: The Land of Lost Content at Craven Arms, The Feathers at Ludlow, Stokesay Court and Sunday coffee was at Loton Hall before a chance to drive Loton Park Hillclimb before heading to RAF Cosford for the finish.
The Sunday evening coach trip headed out to Ironbridge for a private visit to Jackfield Tile Museum before a great fish & chip supper in The Meadow. £30,227.26 was raised from the East Anglian efforts.
“The East Anglian Odyssey” was the title of the 2010 Tour. Based at the very comfortable and welcoming Belstead Brook Hotel near Ipswich with another full entry. Saturday venues included a private visit to Classic Team Lotus with coffee afterwards at Bateman’s Barn. Lunch and tour of The English Whiskey Company. A real treat was Afternoon tea at Crows Hall near Debenham where our lovely host was Caroline Spurrier. Superb home-made scones and tea produced by the Ladies of the Debenham WI was served. A drive through Helmingham Hall Deer Park completed the Saturday leg. The Sunday route featured at trip to Belchamp Hall (where TV series Lovejoy was filmed) a drive through historic Lavenham and their Ford with the finish at Kentwell. The Sunday evening optional trip was a ride in a Classic 1960’s coach to The Brewery TAP in Ipswich with a tour of the Micro Brewery. The recession seemed to bite this year as the amount was much lower at £25,093.88.
Heading back west for 2011 “The Moors & Shores Tour” based at Saunton Sands Hotel near Barnstaple saw another overscribed entry. Venues included: The newly restored Music Room at Woolhanger, lunch at Millers at The Anchor at Porlock Weir followed by a visit to Exmoor Motor Museum where tourists were greeted by BMC Rally Legend: Brian Culcheth & museum owner Stephen Johns. Afternoon cream tea was in the private surrounding of Lynton Town Hall. Everyone then had the chance to experience the Cliff Railway down to Lynmouth before returning to the hotel. Evening entertainment was provided by The Cedars Big Band playing Glen Miller. Juliette Johnson of Barnstaple Auctions was our able Auctioneer for the night. The Sunday leg visited Hartland Abbey (where Prince William held his Stag Party only a couple of weekends before our visit) and Hartland Point, Dartington Glass for some retail therapy with a finish at Northcote Manor. The Sunday evening experience was a Paella Party with live folk music from Ian Hudson and Wing and a Prayer in Saunton Sands lovely Sands Bistro on the Beach below the hotel. The walk back up to the hotel after an evening of singing and dancing proved hard work for some! A new record fundraising total was achieved on this event of £36,506.48 before Gift Aid is added (£5,700 more than any previous total).
And so we now head into 2012 and our 15th Regis Classic Tour. Still generously sponsored by Frosts “To The Peaks of Perfection” heads to The Derbyshire Dales and The Peak District and is proving as popular as ever with old and new participants.