Bolton Round Table members enter Red Arrows car into Lille to Barcelona Wacky Rally for Be Strong charity
FOUR friends converted a 14-year-old ‘banger’ into a four-wheeled version of
a Red Arrows display plane – and entered it into the real life Wacky Races
Barney Wharton-Jones, Phil Stephenson, Toby Williamson and Craig Knights-
all members of Bolton Round Table- drove the specially modified 2003-
registered Rover saloon all the way from Bolton to Barcelona.
They covered 1900 miles over five days, with the 1500 miles between Lille, in
France, and the Catalan city all part of the 'Barmy to Barcelona' Wacky Rally.
On average the team shared 11 hours each day.
The car was painted red, with a white stripe along it,with a hole made in the
roof to create a 'cockpit'. Wings also folded out from the and the car boasted a
tail fin at the back.And canisters were fitted to the car so red, white and blue smoke billowed
from it in true Red Arrows style as it set off.
The Round table team also donned pilots’ uniforms – leading some spectators
on the continent to believe they actually were members of the Red Arrows.
“We all had fancy dress, it was a little too good,” said Mr Wharton Jones, who
lives near Rivington. “Three times we were asked where we were doing our
next display." And in Luxembourg one person took some convincing that the team were not
the Red Arrows themselves. "We had to say ‘we’re not really the Red Arrows’
– it was quite funny," said Mr Wharton-Jones.
The event took them through Thun, in Switzerland, over the Alps the Great St
Bernard Pass, the French Riviera, Costa Brava, Monte Carlo and the historic
French town of Arles.
Mr Wharton-Jones admits the quartet had a great time out on the road, in part
to celebrate Mr Stephenson’s 50th birthday – but there was a serious side to
The team's European adventure was also undertaken to raise funds for Be
Strong, a Bolton charity which supports the homeless and those with a history
of addiction and offending.He said: “It was Phil’s 50th birthday and we thought ‘let’s have a bit of lad’s
trip’, but not just a lad’s trip , with the Round Table, there’s always a way we
can help other people.”It was set up by Darren who himself has battled drug addiction and
homelessness among other in his past.
Mr Wharton-Jones, aged 55, first became aware of Be Strong when Mr
Armstrong visited his church, St Peter’s, in Belmont, to talk about the work his
charity does.“Darren came to talk to us about what and I was absolutely blown away by
what he was doing with what little funding he was.“So I went to the Round Table and said ‘four of us are going to do this, it’s
going to be a massive challenge, let’s see if we can raise some money for Be
Strong – and they all thought it was a fantastic idea.” “We try to help worthwhile caused and this really, really is one. You could be
cynical and say we have just been on a boys’ jolly – yes, we have – but we
have been promoting Be Strong and the awareness of Be Strong is more than
it was, I hope and we have raised what we have £2,400." The money raised will go to help a new project to help women supported by
the charity to launch their own business selling and fixing small appliances
such as microwaves, hoovers, irons and hairdryers.
Mr Armstrong said: “What they’ve done is absolutely amazing , they’ve spent
time away from their families to do it, and I just want to say thank you to them
Mr Wharton-Jones and Bolton Round Table are now looking at ways they can
help Be Strong in future.