Doug Hodson Memorial Rally – Sunday 28th April 2019

Well the 2019 season has really kicked off with a vengeance as we have already had the BTCC opener on the 7th of April 2019, but this time lacking the AROC sponsored Giulietta that had originally been sponsored by AROC for two years from 2018, whilst also missing our driver, Rob Austin, who finished 14th in the series.  Not a bad result for a new team. The weather on that day was really cold and the thirty section members attending literally drank five gallons of tea from the back of my car just to keep warm. Hopefully 2020 will see the return of Mr Austin and warmer weather next year. What a difference a month makes to the temperatures and the 28th of April 2019 saw the return of our annual “Drive it Day Tulip Rally”. This year, to commemorate our recently departed and much admired Chairman, Doug Hodson, the event was organised by his son Jack with the help of Jason Bennett and Fred Baker.

The event kicked off at 0945 from Headcorn aerodrome, which is an event starter point for many car club events and breakfast meets throughout the year. The 28th of April proved to be no exception with a full car park and good showing from the club and included the following members:

Myself and Sue; Mark Rayss & Doug Field; Adrian & Nikki Fielding; Mark Webster & John; Fred Baker; Steve Watts; Terry and our ex-treasurer Anne Seal; Ray & Kate Skilling; Don & Dawn Gilkes; the ever bubbly Ali Jarman & Paul; Mr & Mrs John Sharrar; Colin Alexander and Cynthia; Mr & Mrs Pierre Coussey with their son Phil, who is one of our two youngest members; Stuart and Jo Palmer; Craig Archer and Michelle; John Third; Lisa, Jack and Lali Hodson; the ever sublime Dave and Amanda Norman; Rosie and Tom; Jason Bennet and Adam Baker.

Breakfast in the aerodrome was provided by the Hodson family – a very welcome and warming bacon or sausage sandwich and coffee.

Then we were issued with the hieroglyphic instructions as to the route of the rally, which would prove to be the undoing for many of us who tried to stick to the route, myself included. That said, with the aid of Google maps and a satnav, most of us got back on route, having set off at three minute intervals.  The majority of us that did manage to get lost did so between 16.5 and 17.1 miles from the aerodrome, where some cheeky gremlin had obviously been up to no good and changed the Biddenden road sign to something else! What was important though, was the possession of an accurate trip meter. It was a little disconcerting, however, to observe Fred Baker travelling in the opposite direction to everyone else, even after departing the initial airfield starting point! The “Alfa wave” was definitely back in vogue from members passing each other in opposite directions around the route. More or less, en mass, everyone made it to the final destination at Hole Park Gardens, which is a really beautiful country house in the depths of the Kent countryside, and were treated to exclusive parking on arrival.

Donations to St Christopher’s Hospice where Doug sadly passed away amounted to £230 from attending member donations and were a measure of the generosity of those members attending.

Next was a very welcome lunch from a locally sourced menu that most had pre-ordered to avoid the queues at this very popular and picturesque venue. Rather delicious, I have to say, was the goats cheese salad and a very welcome pot of tea. Having chewed the fat with a number of members Fred Baker was awarded a rather nice bottle of “Prosecco” for having assisted in the planning and also providing the route of the rally. I, however, suspect it was for being the most waved at member being passed from the opposite direction!

The gardens on the extensive estate were exquisite and the bluebells literally carpeted the venue. More than a few members took time after lunch to experience them and they were truly magical.

All in all this was a magnificent turn out from the section, money was raised for a good cause and we all got to celebrate the life of one of the nicest people that ever had a practical interest in everything Alfa, Doug Hodson!

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