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World governing body congratulates local organisers

Eight long-serving members of the Barbados Rally Club (BRC) were honoured for their contribution to the development of the Club and motor sport in the island during the BRC's 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner at the Sherbourne Conference Centre on Saturday night (May 12).

Principal guest was the Minister of Tourism & International Transport, the Hon Noel Lynch, who congratulated the Club on its record, not only as a sporting organisation, but also one which had helped the socio-economic growth and stability of the island and contributed to the sports-tourism business. In an address before making presentations to the awardees, the Minister said: "The Government and the people of Barbados salute you for your achievements and urge you to use them as a platform for future growth."

Two committee members who drove the early development of the Club enjoyed lengthy standing ovations as they made their way to the stage: Trevor Gale, the Club's longest-serving Chairman and a great innovator in the 1960s, and Bill Mallalieu, whose service to the Club is unique in spanning the five decades - a Founder Member, he is the incumbent President, and has served in nearly every capacity except Chairman over the past 50 years.

Club Chairman Mark Hamilton said: "I would like to acknowledge - and propose a toast to - those who have performed beyond the call of duty over the last 50 years, many of whom are not with us tonight. Your dedication to this club and to this sport has allowed both not only to survive, but you have provided a strong foundation upon which the next generation of motor sport enthusiasts can build, be they competitors, marshals, members or spectators."

The Club itself received an accolade from the world governing body of motor sport, the FIA. Andrew Mallalieu, President of the Barbados Motoring Federation - the island's governing body - read a message from FIA President Max Mosley: "On behalf of everyone at the FIA, please accept my warmest congratulations on the 50th Anniversary of the Barbados Rally Club; we have always enjoyed an excellent working relationship with the BRC and wish you a wonderful evening."

Nearly 500 people gathered to celebrate this major milestone; a display of competition cars representative of each decade in the Club's history was arranged in the Lower Foyer and Main Foyer of the building, including multiple Champion Michael Gill's self-built Minilan, currently mid-way through restoration, which had not been seen in public for many years.

The awardees were not necessarily those whose expertise behind the wheel marked them out among others, but those whose commitment to the management and future of the Club was uppermost in their minds. Each received a plaque to mark that contribution, a framed photograph of them in action and a copy of the Club's 50th Anniversary publication, 0 to 50: The Barbados Rally Club 1957 - 2007. Each copy had been personally inscribed by Sir Clifford Husbands, Governor-General of Barbados, a former competitor and official of the Club, who wrote the Foreword.

The celebration was briefly tinged by sadness, with the presentation of an award marking the contribution of Andrew Phillips, a committee member in the early 1970s and again in the 1990s, when he was an important figure during a period of revival and growth. Phillips died in 1996; in the absence of Wynona Phillips, the award was accepted by former Club Chairman Antonio Rodriguez.
The other awardees were:
+ Tommy Bentley - Treasurer for more than two decades, Secretary and Vice-President for shorter periods and former Trustee
+ David Edwards - former Chairman, event organiser and route-setter, also a winning competitor, who remains a Trustee
+ Geoff Goddard - a competitor who gave 20 years of committee service, mainly in the roles of secretary and competition secretary
+ John Sealy - a committee member as early as 1962, former Chairman, current Trustee and former Clerk of the Course at Bushy Park
+ Harry Watkins - the Club's first Competition Secretary, when already a successful competitor, and recently-appointed Trustee

The second major event for the BRC is Rally Barbados 2007, which will be run over the weekend of May 26/27, followed by the Esso/Courtesy Garage 50th Anniversary June Safari, which will round off the month of celebrations by returning to the Club's roots. The successful running of the first June Rally in 1957 was the catalyst to the founding of the BRC, and it remains the oldest-established motor sport event in the region with a continuous history.

Principal sponsors of the BRC's 50th Anniversary celebrations are Automotive Art, Banks Holdings Ltd, Dacosta Mannings Auto Centre, Digicel, McEnearney Quality, Simpson Motors, Texaco and Williams Industries. Associate sponsors are Armag, the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Courtesy Garage, Crane & Equipment, Essco, Esso, Harris Paints, Nassco and SOL.

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