Last year, REME Veteran and Chelsea Pensioner Chris O’ Connor along with friend and colleague Geoff Read embarked on an adventure: the Veterans Car Rally in Gibraltar, which also coincided with the 80th anniversary of REME.
Chris (80) and Geoff (76) started their journey at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea on the 12th September in their £500 2004 Toyota Corolla and headed to Calais via Dover before spending the night in Le Mans. By the morning of the 15th, Chris and Geoff were braving roads with vertiginous drops through the Pyrenees towards Spain and although the Corolla held up well, the same could not be said about the drivers. Both were experiencing health issues that unfortunately were not eased much by an overnight stay in Valencia.
The following day Chris and Geoff reached Malaga, their final stop before they were due to arrive at the Gibraltar barracks, where the Chelsea Pensioners were hosted by the Royal Gibraltar Regiment. We are proud to report that they won the Rally and were the proud recipients of the brand-new Queen Elizabeth Trophy.
Unfortunately, the health issues continued, and Geoff was forced to fly back to the UK. Chris’s health had also deteriorated further, and on the journey home he had to rest up with friends in Malaga for an extra three days before finally arriving home – Corolla intact – at the Royal Hospital on the 28th of September.
Sadly, Geoff Read passed away just a few days ago, and The REME Family offers their condolences to Geoff’s family, friends and of course Chris for this sad news.
In Geoff’s honour, and because of his unbroken spirit and desire to continue to have adventures with the time he has left, Chris wishes to participate in the rally again later this year:
“In his memory I would like to enter the car in The Veterans Banger Rally 2023 raising funds for military charities.
I need some assistance from the REME family to get the car through its MOT in February and looking for anyone who would like to accompany me on this journey and share the driving and the costs.
There is an opportunity for that person to raise money for the REME charity.Initial cost £150/ person in the team! Life is an adventure, I will be 81 in March and the doctor says about a year to live so I have to cram in as much adventure as I can.
Arte et Marte everyone, never mind thinking outside the box, throw the box away!!!”
– Chris O’ Connor
Do you think you got what it takes to join Chris for the Gibraltar Rally later this year?. You need to be part of the REME Family, have a full driving license and some VM experience. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. First come, first serve!