Coachlines - October 2021

26.10.21 Immediate Past Master Sarah Jane Adams-Diffey

Goodwood Revival 2021 – an epic three-day Coachmakers’ fundraising adventure

The alarm went off in our hotel bedroom at 5.30am every morning. Simon was not amused. I was informed that historic Formula 1 racing drivers don’t get up that early. By 6am, on parade in our Revival outfits, Liveryman Tim Metcalfe and his wonderful wife Jane – the power house duo who organised 202 bucket shaking volunteers on behalf of the Coachmakers during the three-day Revival weekend, and I, met up for a bleary eyed breakfast and some strong black coffee to set us up for the long day ahead. After a short drive from our hotel we arrived in the field known as Car Park C where our intrepid early-shift bucket-shaking volunteers started to arrive for a 6.30am sign-on each morning.

With our Coachmakers’ flag flying high and fluttering gently in the early morning breeze, Tim then left us girls to it and shot off to the track side to set up our second bucket-shaking hub at the ‘Make do and Mend’ area. For those who know Goodwood, there is nothing like the vision of the sun burning off the wet dew of the Sussex grass over the many, many fields as car after car gleaming and glinting in the early sunshine, the pride and joy of many a driver, arriving with excited occupants all dressed up to the nines, eagerly awaiting the day’s racing and events.

The Revival is the biggest motorsport event of its kind in the world and if you haven’t been, then it is difficult to describe, but imagine the scene where everyone is dressed up in vintage fashion to captivate the essence of the 1940s, 50s and 60s era. Carnaby Street and Twiggy would be proud.

With our information table set up, Jane and I were ready to go with instructions for the volunteers, handing out hand sanitizer for safety, biscuits and bottled water for sustenance, plus buckets, stickers, leaflets and hand-held card machines. Finally, we taught our volunteers some of the finer points of bucket-shaking etiquette, (you are not allowed to shake!), and generally made sure that everybody was happy with the task in hand and set them on their way to their pre-determined points where they would be fundraising. Jane and I, a little nervous on the first day, worrying that the volunteers would even find our stand, were elated to see our very first shift volunteers as Past Master Group Captain Gerry Bunn and Steward Neil Sheath made their way towards us through the early morning haze, suited and booted, eager to start extracting pounds from the public.

Our majestic bucket-shaking team was made up of Liverymen from the Coachmakers, various family members who joined in for the jolly and we had much help and assistance from those who were old hands at bucket-shaking for various Goodwood charity events and who love the job so much that they had offered their services to the Coachmakers. We are of course eternally grateful to them all.

The enthusiasm was palpable. People really wanted to do their bit, and we had many who at the end of their two-hour shift, came back and offered another two hours of their time on the following day. It was an example of great British spirit, with everybody getting involved including Past Master Dallimore, who at the age of 92, having driven himself from Sherborne, also happily did ‘his bit’ and has since told me that it was a joy and he was so glad that he had. The gods were clearly shining down on us as we were blessed with an Indian summer and stunningly hot sunshine which made the job even more enjoyable. This year’s event was designed with a theme of ‘Arrive and Thrive’, and I had duly arrived at Goodwood much earlier in the week to help set up our exhibition hub which was slap bang centre in the newly themed, ‘Make do and Mend area’, right next to the race track.

This great space gave us the opportunity to tell the Coachmakers’ Livery story and demonstrate with the very generous help of Fairbourne Carriages and Heritage Skills Academy, where and how we distribute our charitable funding. A fantastic example in real time for the public to see where their donations may be spent, by meeting and talking to apprentices who are the worthy recipients.

The two exhibition areas were side-by-side and so we were able to explain how the automobile evolved by displaying a magnificent coach and early car which was generously loaned to us by Liveryman John Worth, neighboured with the barn-find car which was being rebuilt under the leadership of John Pitchforth and the Heritage Skills Academy students. They were all dressed smartly in suitable overalls proudly displaying the Coachmakers’ crest on their backs.

Last year, as Master Coachmaker, my aim was to raise awareness under an umbrella of motorsport covering three specific categories: fundraising, heritage skills, and diversity. The raison d’etre behind the fundraising is clear, with more cash invested into the Charitable Trust Fund we are able to distribute more financially through apprenticeships and bursaries. This in turn will give students the opportunity to learn important heritage skills which, if not addressed in the coachmaking, automotive and aerospace industries will be lost and forgotten. And importantly, acknowledging and embracing diversity and inclusion in these sectors means that absolutely anybody can learn these skills.

The classic car industry is worth more than the UK’s music sector and the whisky industry. The estimated total size of annual spending in the historic vehicle sector is £7.2bn. It is here to stay, but our talent is running out and this is what we need to urgently address. If ‘heritage skills’ were a species, we would be on the endangered list, and every single car that was racing during the weekend would at some point in time become a barn find.

The Goodwood Revival was an outstanding moment to demonstrate all three threads and as the Immediate Past Master, I was very proud that we were able to do so, at such an important and internationally recognised event. We really got the story across on a major platform, even if we had not been given the ok to use social media to any great affect. Of course the fun and games didn’t end there! There were interviews on stage with apprentices and the owners from Fairbourne Carriages, Heritage Skills Academy and with Simon and myself at the Make do and Mend area. And we met up with many Coachmakers who were at the event in an official capacity such as Liverymen Mark Gauntlett with Aston Martin, which brought along the latest car from the new James Bond film and Duncan Rabagliatti and his wife Mia, head of the Formula Junior series and FIA aficionado, to name just two.

The voice of Goodwood, Chris Drewett interviewed me at the Drivers’ Club to discuss what the Coachmakers are all about and what we get up to, which was aired on Goodwood Radio. It was a real privilege to talk to him.

Simon, who was racing two cars during the weekend, came up with a great idea to invite the apprentices from Heritage Skills Academy to help push the iconic 250F Maserati down to collecting. Pushing the cars to the collecting paddock is always a wonderful part of the theatre before a race and it was a very special moment for the apprentices to see a full grid of cars and drivers plus a great photo opportunity to help raise their profile as you will see from some of the pictures that were taken. I particularly love the picture of Amelia, an apprentice who in the photograph was being told by Simon to go and introduce herself to Clive Chapman, son of Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus cars who was stood in front of them. To her credit, she did just that and they chatted happily before the cars set off to race. With great enthusiasm and professionalism, she then stayed with me for two races, helping me to run the pit board from the wall for the 250F and then the two-driver race with the Talbot Largo. It was pouring with rain, we got absolutely soaked to the skin, and I have never seen a youngster laugh and smile quite so much. The perfect example of a real petrolhead. Completely and utterly bonkers.

On Saturday night, by private invitation from the Duke of Richmond Jane, Tim, Simon and I attended the Drivers’ Ball. The dress code was Hollywood Glamour. Donation envelopes had been placed at every place setting and the Duke’s sister Lady Naomi March, fondly known as Nimmy, stood up and spoke about the Coachmakers and instructed people to donate. Yes, they instruct at Goodwood, no mucking around. £50 minimum in each envelope or God help you; that is the last time you are invited. We believe that we raised at least £14k from the envelopes and we are still calling in the IOU pledges.

Nimmy and I had had a phone call earlier in the week, and I was delighted when she informed me that I was not to fret, about her Drivers’ Ball speech. She knew all about coaches and horses, was totally passionate and often reminded her brother that without the coach and horse, we would never have cars. Nimmy was, she reported, a British champion pony and trap driver and as a young lady had won the under-13 championship with her younger sister, Lady Louisa as her navigator at Smith’s Lawn, Windsor. This shouldn’t have surprised me at all as her mother and father were gods in the coaching world, hosting many coaching events at Goodwood House. I am pleased to report that Nimmy was most compelling in her deliverance about the Coachmakers on the night and as a professional actress, as they say, she gave it some welly!

By the time we got to the prize-giving on the Sunday evening, I think it is fair to say that Jane, Tim and I along with the teams from Heritage Skills Academy and Fairbourne Carriages were absolutely shattered, but in a good way with a big smile on our faces and knowing that we had raised more than a quid and had had the best fun. We met up with friends and volunteers that we hadn’t seen for such a long time due to the pandemic, such as Liveryman Richard Pugh and his wife Liz, new Junior Warden Steve Fitz-Gerald and Liveryman Debbie Robinson with their friends and family and they were all suitably impressed with our set up and displays.

A huge thanks go to all Coachmakers who put in an appearance and helped the cause. I would like to give you the final fund total in this report, but I am afraid these big fundraisers take a bit of time with the ‘wash up’, as every day we are still receiving donations from all over the world. I believe however, that we made at least £7k on the buckets and I would like to hazard a guess that we will have made approximately £30k in total and hopefully a bit more. Not too bad for a weekend’s worth of work at the best motorsport event in the world! The wonderful irony with Goodwood and the Revival, is that this amazing opportunity was given to us by Charles, the Duke of Richmond, owner of Goodwood, descendant of the man who granted us our Royal charter back in 1677, Charles II. As King Charles II many generations before him, he did us proud. Thank you Your Grace, we couldn’t have done it without you!