A recent TV appeal for donations by the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children has a 60 year-old motor racing connection, worth remembering by those who have forgotten it or never knew about it.
John Godfrey Parry Thomas was the most successful Brooklands driver in the 1922-1926 period, when he raced there, having won 36 races and the dangerous Match Race against Eldridge’s huge Fiat, with his own 7.2-litre Leyland-Thomas, the 6.2-litre Rapson Lanchester 40, his 1½-litre/1.8 litre Thomas Special, the rebodied 1923 TT 3-litre Vauxhall, his own ‘Flatiron’ Thomas Special and his 26.9-litre Thomas Special ‘Babs’.
Being fond of children, he had made anonymous donations to the aforesaid hospital for the endowment there of a cot, presumably from the fees he earned by showing his racing cars at children’s Christmas shows at London stores like Harrods, Gamages and Selfridges, for he was by no means wealthy.
After he was killed at Pendine in ‘Babs’, attempting to better his 171.02mph LSR, The Autocar opened an appeal for donations so the cot could be maintained.
In the end the total was over £1000, BARC members having given £314 and The Autocar’s publishers another substantial sum. It was enough to endow the ‘Babs’ cot in perpetuity and a surplus went to the Belgrave Children’s Hospital in Clapham. The Autocar had a picture of the cot being blessed by a clergyman with a small boy holding a toy racing car. Over the years this was forgotten, but when I enquired, a record was found in the hospital day book and it was agreed that a ‘Babs’ plaque be put up. It has made me send my donation; perhaps those who admired Parry Thomas may want to do the same?