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Silverstone and Volunteering with M.E

by: CHRISTOPHE WILSON

Having M.E as a 60 something bordering on retiring from working life, waiting to enjoy the pension our government deemed us females have to wait until we are 66 (bit of a sore point), I decided apart from volunteering for Grant and his wonderful band at Disability Today that I wanted some fun.

Being a bit of a Petrol head most of my life with my Chris my husband of nearly 40 years this October and being an ex Drag racer until the car got wrapped around a lamp post on its way back from Santa Pod, I applied to Silverstone Circuit to be a volunteer Racemaker. Now being an M.E sufferer and not sure whether it would behave itself is a challenge in itself but I applied back in March and got accepted.

In July it was the British Grand Prix, the expected crowd of 140,000 was a little bit daunting being in an electric scooter I was at waist height to most adults but I had an advantage being a Customer Services volunteer. Customer Services help the fans with their lovely little ones with Repatriation bands so if they decide to get parted from their parents or there is an incident in the Circuit, they have a band which gives them a telephone contact number for us to ring. I tell the children “Think Pink” as we are dressed in a lovely shade of Pink with Blue hats and Blue jackets so we cannot be missed.

This year it was extra special because of the football and England getting through on the Saturday meant the fans wanted to watch that as well which started luckily when the qualifying for formula 1 came to an end and I was living out my dream of being at Silverstone for the formula 1.

But dear reader it was a bit of a disaster for myself and my husband, not only was we sitting in 36 degree heat, my Chris was having chest pains from the Thursday so I made him get checked out by St Johns Ambulance on the Saturday morning. Cutting a long story short, my first formula 1 was spent driving between Silverstone and Northampton General Hospital so Chris could be seen by the staff who also wanted to see the football.

As he was sitting in the hospital, I was sitting at my post hearing the car’s screaming round the track wondering how he was getting on. At 3pm I went to get a deserved cup of tea after seeing the first 30 seconds of the start, whizzing on my electric scooter meant I could get to and fro quickly as the crowds were watching all the action. I met a chap in a wheelchair that had to exit the race because the noise had become too much for him and he had taken a bad turn due to the heat in the stands and his poor health.

I offered to sit with him, as a customer service role was to look after the customer, and watching the race went out of my head. We sat chatting for the rest of the race about his life and love of formula 1. When the crowd starts to get loud we know the race is getting near the end so I offered to go and find out what was happening and went into one of the V.I.P marque’s just to see the rear of Sebastian Vettel’s car cross the finish line. I so wanted Lewis to win after meeting him at our campsite on the Thursday evening and I have watched his rise to fame since his carting days. His number 44 was his carting number and he has used this since.

My guest was pleased only because Lewis had fought his way back from 14th to finish behind Vettel after being hit he said deliberately by a car manufacturer who will remain anonymous; became driver of the day. He was also pleased because he had made the British Grand Prix, but he said that he had a Brain Tumour that was the size of his fist and was inoperable and that this was his last visit to Silverstone. Me missing the British Grand Prix meant nothing, what made me happy was that I had sat with him and made his final visit to his beloved Silverstone a lovely event and one he said he would not forget.

Me missing formula 1 practice, qualifying, football and the formula 1 race, driving to and from the hospital, worrying about my Chris and camping in 38 degrees after sitting with this race fan didn’t mean anything, I don’t know how to put into words what I felt, only that I know this man went away from the circuit his last trip, a contented fan.

Next up is the World Endurance Championships followed straight on by the Moto GP when I will be there in a Grandstand because Rossie is my no 49 hero and I want to be with his fan’s to see him win at Silverstone, but knowing my luck! Being a volunteer sometimes has its perks, you get to meet some interesting characters, sit in the sun and hear the roar of the old engines, happy people following their sports and tired children who remember Think Pink and give me a wave when they leave. I scoot off to my tent after a 14 hour day a happy camper looking forward to a cool beer or two.

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