Charity begins at Lords, with hope for tomorrow

To Sir Stirling Moss’s charity dinner at Lord’s, where the only journos in the room were our own Simon Taylor who was compere for the evening, and your correspondent who had blagged a ticket as a ‘guest of’ someone who is altogether more important.

Thanks to this obviously significant other, I found myself on the top table with, among others, Martin and Liz Brundle, Sir Stirling and Lady Susie and Chris Rea. Martin was delighted when his main course didn’t turn up because “I’ve only just finished having lunch with Roebuck”. I look forward to reading about it.

I still find it funny to think that a 21-year-old Martin and a 51-year-old Stirling were team-mates at Audi in 1981, and odd to think that Martin is now the age Stirling was then. And now it’s Martin’s turn to play seasoned campaigner to a 21-year-old hotshot team-mate, in the form of his son Alex with whom he will race at Le Mans this year. “I think for Alex I’m just going to be one of the blokes who’s driving the car when he’s not,” he told me. “But when I tighten his shoulder straps and send him on his way down the pitlane – well, for me that’s going to be something.” Liz appears impressively sanguine about the whole thing but as she reminded me, “Martin and I met as teenagers so I’ve had 35 years to get used to it.”

The evening was to support the Hope for Tomorrow charity of which Stirling and Susie are patrons (as are Derek Bell and Sir Jack Brabham). The charity launched the world’s first mobile chemotherapy unit in 2007 and will open its third next year. Fundraising was entrusted to Jeffrey Archer. Say what you like about the man, he is one hell of an auctioneer: once all the lots had sold he stormed on to raise another £5000 auctioning nothing more than fresh air. A total of £60,000 was raised, which will at least put a dent in the £250,000 cost of running a unit for three years.

Festivities ended with Simon hosting a Q&A with Stirling, so I asked how long he thought he’d have gone on had his career not been cut short in 1962. “I think I could have managed another 15 or 20 years,” he replied.

Another 20 years! Imagine if he’d continued: Stirling battling it out with Prost, Mansell and Villeneuve. To get there he’d have had to have survived an era even more lethal than his own, so I fear there might not have been a Stirling to regale us with funny stories, dirty jokes and make us feel proud to be in the same room as him.