Downhill racers raise thousands for charity as Soap Box returns to park

Downhill racers raise thousands for charity as Soap Box returns to park

The race nearly had to be cancelled on its return following the Covid pandemic after insurers refused to back it, but it was saved at the eleventh hour by local brokers NFU Mutual. Around 5,000 people descended on Dunorlan Park on Saturday (June 25) to see 22 businesses and six schools race their ‘pimped-up’ go karts down the specially designed course.

The Race was officially opened by celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager, followed by a performance from Bloco Fogo who processioned down the track banging their drums. The overall winner of the businesses category went to Days Garage from Edenbridge, as they steamed down the track with green smoke flowing from the back of their kart.



Second place went to Sweat-It All Stars and third place to The Epic Crew 22 (The 3H Foundation) whose kart was donated by VIP Sponsor DSL. Previous champions at the kart race, Team Mucka, was not as successful this year as they crashed out before the finish line, but they did raise £5,700 for charity. The team’s kart was piloted by Ash Pitman, who was raising money in honour of wife and former Casualty actress, Rebecca Gibbs, who was looked after by Hospice in the Weald before she died.

Judd School won the schools’ race, followed by Skinners Kent Academy in second place and Oakley School in third. But the biggest winners were local charities after the event looks set to have raised more than £25,000, organisers said. The money will go to good causes including the Pickering Cancer Drop-In Centre, whose founder Polly Taylor was seen descending down the track in the charity’s own kart, along with Hospice in the Weald, Taylor Made Dreams and Nourish Community Foodbank.

Insurers NFU Mutual, who had saved the event by offering last minute cover, also entered the event, with their NFU Saviours kart, and raised more than £12,000 for various charities. Nicole Piesse Turner organiser of the race, told the Times:

“The day was a phenomenal success, we couldn’t have asked for more.

“Whilst we are still adding up all the totals raised to be announced, we literally couldn’t be happier, the whole community, town, schools, racers and charities came together – we even gave a special presentation which can be viewed on our TWSoapbox Instagram page to Rosemary and Polly for all their help.

“We’re still counting up the overall raised figure on the day but we are confident we have smashed the last race’s total and if not, we have got very close to raising around £30,000. The official amount will be announced soon. “This event has been my love and passion – and a love and hate project at times – but seeing the people of Tunbridge Wells all come together was fantastic. Thanks also to my amazing Chatty Hatter team. We may be small, but we are a mighty force and we could not be happier!

“With over 5,000 attending on the day, it felt like the best soapbox to date and definitely what the whole town needed. “It was so wonderful to finally come together – at last! Roll on next year – dates to be anounced this week…so get planning teams!”

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