THE unfortunate plight of well-known Abbeyleix man, Bobby Kent, is the inspiration behind a huge Laois-Offaly charity motor rally being organised to raise funds for the Laois Alzheimer’s Association.
The Abbeyleix Manor Hotel Stages Rally 2011 was officially launched last Saturday and attracted a number of special guests, including broadcasters Michael Lyster and Dougie Hughes, five-time tarmac champion Eugene Donnolly, chairman of Motor Sport Ireland, Joe Corcoran, and Kate Brennan of The Alzheimer Society of Ireland.
Organiser Oliver Stanley says it attracted a crowd of nearly 450 to the hotel, but funds were amply raised by a raffle, boasting such prizes as a handmade leather rucksack, which was auctioned for 270 euro, and shirts and jackets signed by stars of the motor sports world. There was also a charity head shave and chest wax, with Bobby Kent’s son, Carden, having his curly locks snipped for the cause.
Oliver said that he was moved to organise the rally after hearing that his friend Bobby, owner of the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel, had become hospitalised full-time with Alzheimer’s.
“Bobby used to have a rally car,” Oliver told the Leinster Express, “and so I contacted the Birr and District Motor Club to see if they would bring their cars to Abbeyleix.” Word spread quickly, and Oliver maintains they now hope to have around 120 cars competing in the rally, with crews coming from as far afield as Wales to participate.
Oliver, a member of three motor clubs, will be taking his place behind the wheel of one of the vehicles on the rally which takes place on Sunday, February 27 and beginning at the Abbeyleix Manor at 8am. There are three stages to the route and up to 12 different classes, with a prizegiving ceremony arranged for that evening.
Oliver will be joined on his journey by Bobby’s wife, Jenny, who will be travelling for the first time in a rally car when she takes her seat as a novice navigator.
“We’ve been well supported by the local community and by other motor clubs around the country,” says Oliver. “All the support has been very well appreciated.”