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HAC Dinner – 14 July 2015

A great night was had by all at the SUPPORT OUR PARAS Charity Dinner on 14 July 2015 at the Honourable Artillery Company in London.

HAC DinnerGuests were greeted with a champagne reception and displays in the courtyard.  We were joined by serving soldiers, who spoke to guests about what it takes to join the regiment and what sort of kit they use on a daily basis.  We were also very pleased to have the Airborne Museum in Duxford, to talk guests through The Parachute Regiment’s history.  To top it all off, one of the BTCC Paras Racing cars was on show, as well as The Parachute Regiment’s Bobsleigh team, complete with bobsleigh!

HAC DinnerAlthough Air Traffic Control windows closed on the Red Devils Freefall Display, guests were treated to a performance from The Parachute Regiment band before heading inside for dinner.

Each table was hosted by a serving member of The Parachute Regiment, and the room was addressed by Lt Gen John Lorimer DSO MBE, Colonel Commandant.  After a three-course meal, our guest speaker, Martin Hewitt, got up to say a few words.  Martin served eight years as a commissioned officer with The Parachute Regiment before being wounded in Afghanistan.  Since he left the Regiment, Martin has successfully trekked to the geographic North Pole with HRH Prince Harry; he was the first disabled person to reach the summit of Mt Manaslu and attempted the summit of Everest.  He has made the records books on a number of occasions and we were delighted that he was able to join us and treat our guests to such a wonderful speech.

HAC DinnerThe final event of the night was the Auction, where guests were able to bid for items such as a Tandem Day with the Red Devils, a weekend with the Paras Racing team at Silverstone and a beautiful piece of Airborne jewellery.

To view a selection of photographs from the evening, please click here.  Our thanks to Craig Allen for capturing the night for us.

SUPPORT OUR PARAS would like to extend a very big thank you to everyone who came and supported us on the night.  It is with the generosity of our supporters that we are able to continue to support our Paratroopers in a way they deserve.

HAC Dinner


Paras Racing duo impress at Croft

Both Support Our Paras Racing drivers, Derek Palmer and Max Coates, impressed in the latest rounds of the Dunlop British Touring Car Championship at Croft, scoring points in both the Independents Championship, and Jack Sears Trophy.

Coates, the 21-year-old from Scorton, who lives just five miles from the North-east circuit, improved throughout the weekend despite only sitting in his No71 Infiniti Q50 for the first time on Saturday morning.

And backed by a posse of family and friends, Coates not only achieved his principal objective of the weekend — completing all three races without damaging the car — he bagged his first Top 20 finish in the day’s finale.

The North Yorkshireman also scored points in two of the races in the Independents Trophy, and on all three occasions in the Jack Sears Trophy for BTCC rookies.

“At the beginning of the week I didn’t know anything about the car: and now I’ve just had my first top 20 finish,” Coates said as he shielded his eyes from the late afternoon sun which drenched Croft.

“I’m properly made up.

“At the start of the week, I didn’t think my smile could get any bigger, but it has. I’ve improved with every session, so I’m pleased with my overall performance. It felt really, really good, and that has made me seriously excited about the next race at Snetterton.

“I started the weekend in the 1min 29.7s and finished on a 27.2s, so it’s a big difference. I haven’t seen the times, but I’m sure the gap to the lead times is now closer than it was at the beginning.”

In actual fact, in qualifying, Coates’ gap to the polesitter was 3.440s: in Race 3 the gap was just 1.914s to the fastest lap of Matt Neal.

“It’s more than 12 months since I raced,” Coates smiled, “but I now feel like I’m a racing driver again. And it’s a brilliant feeling.”

While Coates bagged two third places and one fourth in the Jack Sears, team-mate Palmer not only finished 19th overall in the day’s finale, but he also scored a second, third and fourth in the Jack Sears.

The 28-year-old Zurich-based Scot from Lesmahagow now stands third in the race for the prestigious Jack Sears Trophy.

But Palmer endured a battle-scarred weekend as his No22 car was pummelled and battered as he mixed it in his debut on the high-speed, technical track.

“A tough, tough weekend,” he admitted. “It’s been rewarding, but ultimately it could have been so much better.

“There were a couple of times I paid the price for being in the wrong place and being collected in someone else’s accident, and in the second race the performance of my soft-compound tyres dropped off dramatically and I lost places.”

After an impressive start in Race 1, Palmer’s progress was halted at the chicane on the second lap when his Q50 was punted from the rear. The impact catapulted him into the rear of Stewart Lines, spinning the Toyota and badly damaging Palmer’s car.

The Scot though recovered from having dropped around 12-seconds, and rejoining in last place, to battle back to finish 22nd, just 1.569s behind Coates.

Support our Paras RacingThe Mallory Park-based TENA Men-backed team’s race cars are prepared by injured ex-servicemen from the Parachute Regiment, with all team profits being donated to SUPPORT OUR PARAS, the official Regiment charity.

And after the Paras completed major repairs to Palmer’s car for the second race, he found himself clipped by another car before a half-spin late in the race due to his deteriorating tyres  saw him drop back to finish 23rd.

In the day’s finale, Palmer made a bad start, thanks to not being able to see all the lights on the start gantry from his grid position, but battled through to battle for 18th.

Despite clearly having the faster car, the Scot was unable to get passed the Toyota of Simon Belcher and had to content himself with 19th.

“It’s very difficult to pass round here without making contact, and I got stuck behind Simon for something like the last six laps,” Palmer continued.

“I could get close, but I just couldn’t get passed without risking damaging both our races. That said, Simon drove brilliantly defensively when he had to, so hats off to him. It was frustrating though because I was clearly a lot quicker than he was.

“I’d opened a healthy two-second gap over Max behind me, but once I got stuck behind Simon, Max was able to close right back up. And that was my progress halted.

“But yeh, overall, we’re here, we’re racing and we’ve made more steps in the right direction.”

Photos: Copyright Jakob Ebrey

Paras Racing names Max Coates as new driver

Support Our Paras Racing is pleased to confirm that Max Coates will pilot the team’s second race car for the remainder of the 2015 Dunlop British Touring Car Championship.

The 21-year-old, from Scorton in North Yorkshire, will partner Zurich-based Derek Palmer, the 28-year-old from Lesmahagow, in the team’s two Infiniti Q50s. Coates will make his BTCC race debut on his ‘home’ circuit at Croft this weekend (June 27/28).

The Mallory Park-based team’s race cars are prepared by injured ex-servicemen from the Parachute Regiment, with all team profits being donated to Support Our Paras, the official Regiment charity.

“I’m over the moon to be joining Support Our Paras Racing in the BTCC,” Coates said today. “The structure of the team is unique and it really is all about supporting the Paras. It’s an honour to represent the Paras on track. The guys are learning a lot very quickly, but they have teamwork and desire to succeed in abundance.

“I’m under no illusion as to how hard the racing will be. This is the first part of a longterm plan with the team and I am very excited about opportunities both now and in the future.

“Racing in the BTCC will be a dream come true. There has been a lot of hard work, from a number of people, behind the scenes over the last five years since I joined the TOCA paddock. Kicking off my BTCC career at Croft, my home circuit, will be something special.”

The talented young Yorkshireman has already impressed during appearances in a number of support races which form part of the BTCC race weekend.

Max in SOPR CarAfter competing in karts at national level, Coates graduated to the Ginetta Junior Championship, before stepping up to Ginetta G50 and the Ginetta GT Supercup in 2012. He immediately impressed, racking up five wins in the opening nine rounds which put him in contention for the title. Unfortunately, budget constraints forced him to withdraw from the running, before returning to win again at Croft. He also contested the final round at Brands Hatch in a Ginetta G55.

In 2013, after an eight-month layoff, Coates returned to compete in one round of the Ginetta GT Supercup, again at Croft. After qualifying fifth, he duly turned this into three top six finishes, including a podium in the third and final race of the weekend.

Last year, Coates made two ‘guest’ appearances, one in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, and the other in Ginetta G55. His Porsche outing at Donington saw him again show his versatility, finishing fifth and sixth, while his Ginetta race at Croft resulted in another top six finish.

Coates’ appointment was greeted by Support Our Paras Racing team principal, Derek Palmer Snr.

“I’m delighted to welcome Max to the team,” he said. “We know what he’s capable of, and he has bags of potential which we’re confident we’ll be able to nurture and develop.

“It’s an exciting appointment for the team, and we’re looking forward to working together for the rest of the season, and into 2016.”

And SOPR operations director, Jim McGill, believes the decision to place Coates in the second car, which will carry the Yorkshireman’s preferred No71, will finally allow the team to establish a period of stability.

“Placing Max in the second car is a significant boost for the team, and will allow us, finally, to focus on bringing stability to the fledgling team,” McGill said.

“It’s widely known the challenges we’ve faced throughout the opening four BTCC race weekends, but now we can concentrate on developing a unified team which has two young drivers with bags of potential.

“It has always been my goal to have two young drivers in the cars who will grow and develop with the team as it establishes itself and becomes more competitive.

“We have always acknowledged the BTCC is a tough championship, and we accept we’re serving our apprenticeship in the full glare of publicity.

“Now though we have a group of guys ready to knuckle down for the longterm, build through the second half of the season and be ready to deliver results.”


1-2-3 finish for Palmer and ParasRacing

Derek Palmer bagged a 1-2-3 finish for Support Our Paras Racing today when he scored the team’s first British Touring Car Championship points.

Palmer, racing for the first time this season as an Independent — and watched by the Red Devils who dropped in — delivered three impressive drives at Oulton Park, notching points in all three races.

Copyright Jakob Ebrey
Copyright Jakob Ebrey

After scoring his first point after finishing 15th in class in the opener, Palmer improved to 14th in Race 2 — registering two points — before going one step further in the day’s final, scoring three points for 13th.

“That’s mega: awesome,” Palmer said after being told of his achievements. “It’s the perfect way to end what has been a difficult few weeks for the team. Now we have a new, solid base to work and develop from. I’m very happy.”

This was the first weekend Support Our Paras Racing had raced since Infiniti withdrew its backing for the new team. The Mallory Park-based team’s race cars are prepared by injured ex-servicemen from the Parachute Regiment, with all team profits being donated to Support Our Paras, the official Regiment charity.

It was a day of notable firsts for the fledgling team. Not only did Support Our Paras Racing score its first 19 points in the Independents Team Trophy, but Palmer took three podium finishes in the Jack Sears Trophy for BTCC rookies.

After finishing third in the opening two races, Palmer was second in the day’s final race. He now stands fourth in the race for the prestigious Jack Sears Trophy, just 18 points off third. And Palmer was delighted with his, and the team’s performances throughout the weekend, especially in the day’s final race.

“I’m very happy,” the 28-year-old admitted. “The race pace is significantly improved, and we can now comfortably mix it with the guys in the midfield. I struggled a little bit to bring the tyres up to temperature at the start of Race 3, but overall I’m really happy: our pace is actually there now.

“The pace in Race 3 was mega. I managed to keep Rob Collard — a BTCC race winner — behind me for a few laps, which was really encouraging, and showed how we’ve improved our pace. That was a nice feeling.

Copyright Jakob Ebrey
Copyright Jakob Ebrey

“I flat-spotted the tyres on Lap 1, so I was driving with a flat-spot the whole race. It was getting worse and worse, so I was happy it lasted to the end.

“We’ve now established a new baseline for future development. This weekend has been massive for us, and begins to show the true potential of the car.

“It’s been our best race weekend so far this season, and our pace is there. We’re hanging on in there now with the midfield, so yeh, let’s move further forward.”

*Support Our Paras Racing is back in action on June 27/28 at Croft.

Photos: Copyright Jakob Ebrey

Charity Dinner Guest Speaker

We are pleased to be able to announce that our Guest Speaker for this year’s Charity Dinner will be Martin Hewitt.

Martin HewittFormerly a commissioned officer in The Parachute Regiment, Martin worked on operations and training exercises in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America before being shot in Afghanistan in 2007 leaving his right arm completely paralysed.

Since leaving the army, Martin has made the record books several times as Captain of the Combined Services Disabled Ski Team.  He has represented Great Britain in the Paralympic World Championships competing in Downhill Ski racing.

In 2011, Martin was part of a team that walked unsupported to the Geographical North Pole along with HRH Prince Harry and in 2012, he climbed Mt Manaslu 8163M, Mt McKinley and led a team on Mt Everest 8848M.

Martin is now a Managing Director of Fieri Leadership and Development.  Fieri specialise in developing teams and leaders that operate under high pressure in often hazardous environments.  Martin is currently developing multiple teams to establish several world firsts to complete the Adaptive Grand Slam, summiting the 7 highest peaks on the 7 continents and walk unsupported to the North and South Poles.

Martin is a regular presenter on overcoming adversity, leadership and team development, and we look forward to welcoming him to the HAC on 14 July.