July 19, 2024

Top sculptor draws attention to campaign to honour F1 hero and inspire youngsters

Pictured at the Wrexham Business Professionals event at the Ramada Hotel are, from left/Right, elsh Secretary Alun Cairns, Gill Kreft, Pendine Park; Welsh Economy Minister Ken Skates and Ian Bancroft, Wrexham Council Chief Executive. Picture Mandy Jones

A framed drawing of Wales’s greatest ever motor racing driver has been presented to Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns as a campaign to honour his memory and inspire young people gathers pace.

Tom Pryce was born at the former Trevalyn Hospital in Rossett and spent his early childhood living in the Hightown area of Wrexham and the nearby village of Brymbo.

He was tipped for the very top after swapping his first job as a tractor mechanic for a career in motorsport and a place in the Shadow Grand Prix team.

Tom won the Formula One Race of Champions at Brands Hatch in 1975 against a strong field which included world champions Emerson Fittipaldi and Jody Scheckter.

He then took pole position in the British Grand Prix that year and led the field for two laps as well as posting third place finishes in the 1975 Austrian and 1976 Brazilian grand prix.

But Tom, known to his friends by his second name of Maldwyn, was tragically killed at the 1977 South African Grand Prix at the Kyalami circuit when he was just 27 years of age.

The campaign was launched in Denbigh where he went to school at Ysgol Frongoch after his parents, a local police officer and a district nurse, settled in the village of Denbigh.

Organisers hope to raise £50,000 for statue by talented sculptor Nick Elphick, from Llandudno, and the aim is to encourage local children and young people to follow their dreams just like Tom did.

The drawing, by Nick Elphick, was presented to Mr Cairns along with framed prints for Welsh Government Economy and Transport Minister Ken Skates and Wrexham Council Chief Executive Ian Bancroft at a Wrexham Business Professionals event at the town’s Ramada Hotel.

Mr Cairns said: “I am sure that had he lived Tom Pryce would have gone on to Formula One world championship glory and achieved a place among Britain’s greatest racing drivers.

“With that in mind, I am delighted that there is a campaign to recognise his incredible accomplishments in his hometown of Denbigh.

“I am sure his achievements still provide inspiration to young people right across North Wales and I am honoured to receive this wonderful drawing of one of Wales’ greatest sportsmen.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Ken Skates, who is also the AM for Clwyd South.

He said: “Tom was a hugely talented Formula 1 driver who overcame all the odds to become a world champion in the making.

“He showed it was possible to follow your dream and reach the top in a hugely competitive profession and I applaud the organisers of the campaign for honouring his memory in this way, not just as an act of commemoration but with the aim of providing a positive role model for children and young people.”

Ian Bancroft added: “I was honoured on behalf of Wrexham Council to receive the print of the fantastic drawing by Nick Elphick which brilliantly captured the essence of Tom Pryce.

“Let’s not forget that he spent the early part of his life in Wrexham so we are also proud to remember his as one of our own.”

Appeal organiser Mario Kreft MBE who lives in Denbigh and runs the Pendine Park care organisation, said: “Tom dreamed of becoming a racing driver after starting his working life as a tractor mechanic and he achieved his dream before the tragic accident that snatched a future world Formula One champion from us.

“This appeal is about inspiring young people to dream, whatever that dream might be, and to raise enough money for an interactive statue of Tom and to provide a permanent archive of Tom’s achievements.”

Tom Pryce was killed in a freak accident when his car collided with a teenage race marshal, and he was struck on the head with a fire extinguisher, killing both men upon impact. Tom left behind his distraught widow Fenella, parents Jack and Gwyneth and a racing world in shock.

The strap line of the appeal is #whatsyourdream. For details visit www.tompryce.co.uk or the TomPryceF1 Facebook page. To donate search Tom Pryce Appeal on GoFundMe.

Caption: Gill Kreft, of Wrexham Business Professionals and accountants M D Coxey, presents Welsh secretary Alun Cairns, left, with a special drawing of Welsh Formula One star Tom Pryce, from Denbigh, with copies for Welsh Economy Minister Ken Skates and Wrexham Council Chief Executive Ian Bancroft.