MEMBERS of the Todds Leap Ulster Rally’s organising committee were left speechless at the British Rally Championship’s (BRC) end of season awards night in Manchester on Saturday when Rally NI was named the best event for the second year in a row and the fifth time ever.
The reason for their shock was because it had been unprecedented for an event to win that particular title in its first year of moving base. When Rally NI won the award last year it had been firmly ensconced in Antrim for a number of years, and although there was a new clerk of the course at the helm in Omagh man Lewis Boyd, it was a well-oiled machine.
This year threw up a new set of challenges for the event’s 800-odd volunteers as the entire five-event rally shifted across Northern Ireland to Fermanagh and South Tyrone.
The move meant everything within the event was new, requiring a monumental effort from the hundreds who give up their free time to ensure the event is run professionally, efficiently and, most importantly, safely.
With the support of the volunteers, Fermanagh District Council, particularly Eddie McGovern and Joanne Cunningham and title sponsor, Todds Leap and proprietor, Benny O’Hanlon, teething problems were kept to a minimum and the event was deemed a success by the many competitors and spectators, who thoroughly enjoyed that August weekend.
Clerk of the course, Boyd, who was celebrating his 50th birthday at the awards night in Manchester, was taken aback with the award, but he was keen to pay tribute to his fellow volunteers.
“We were surprised to receive the award because it is unprecedented for an event to win it in its first year of moving base,” he beamed.
“It just goes to show how good the event was and how well received it was, but none of it would be possible without the hard work and support from our 800 volunteers.”
Lewis, who attended the event with Paul Biggerstaff, safety officer, Philip Murray, event director, and Ian Connolly, chief marshal, added: “This award isn’t just for us [himself, Paul, Philip and Ian], it’s for everyone involved and everyone who helped out should give themselves a massive pat on the back.
“It’s given everyone a massive boost for next year, it’s really given us all a lift,” he concluded.