Construction work is scheduled to start later this year on a specially designed holiday retreat for the disabled, which will double as a lasting tribute to Joey Dunlop, the most successful rider in the 100-year history of TT racing.
Invitations to tender are being sent out shortly, seeking tender prices to be considered by the trustees as soon as this year's 100th TT has been held. On the funding side, this year's biggest-ever TT is critical to the fund-raising campaign.
However, it was not only his skills as a road racer (including a record 26 victories on the Mountain Course and five TT Formula One world titles) which saw him honoured by Her Majesty the Queen with an MBE in 1986, and an OBE ten years later.
It was also for his personal charitable
undertakings, which included a number of lone journeys to Eastern Europe to take food, clothing and toys, mainly for underprivileged children.
After Joey's death while racing in Estonia in July 2000, a group of his ardent fans approached his wife, Linda, seeking her agreement to raise funds to provide a facility which would be of lasting benefit to the community and also be a fitting reminder of the varied achievements of a the person affectionately known as "Yer Maun".
It emerged during initial meetings between Linda and Honda's Bob McMillan that Joey had long had a desire to establish an amenity in the Isle of Man, which would aid people with a disability, and in particular children.
An undertaking was made to provide much- needed specialist accommodation for the physically challenged and their families, and to work alongside other charitable organisations, both on and off the island to achieve this goal.
With the enthusiastic support of Linda Dunlop (patron), the Joey Dunlop Foundation was formed and currently comprises Richard 'Milky' Quayle (president), John Harris (vice president), Kevin Quirk (chairman), John Watterson (legal), Bruce Baker (trustee), Fiona McDonald (secretary) and Vari Jones (treasurer).
The first major step forward in the £700,000 plus project was taken last year, when a disused house in Victoria Road, Douglas (close to the TT paddock) was purchased. This has now been demolished and
- for an overall cost of £200,000 - the land now belongs to the Foundation.
Construction of the five-apartment Joey's Holiday Lodge will cost a further £450,000 and should have started by the time this year's Manx GP gets underway at the end of August. Another £50,000 will then be required for fixtures and fittings.
Through sterling efforts by committee members, backed-up by donations and cash from fund raising activities, the Foundation now has a bank balance of some £150,000. Various grants should be available to the charity, but another £200,000 is needed to keep the programme on course for a
2008 opening of the Lodge.
The accommodation will be available to both local and non-island residents, with former TT and Manx GP riders and their families having priority during race periods.
Fund raising will be the key operation for the Foundation at this year's TT Centenary Festival and a programme of special events is already in place.
An exhibition of Joey's race machines and the many trophies he won during his fruitful career, will open at the Villa Marina Colonnade Suite on Thursday 31 May and will remain open for the remainder of the TT period.
The Mike Hailwood Centre (in the paddock behind the TT Grandstand) will host a comprehensive display of race winner's trophies and silverware on Saturday 2 June and again on Thursday 7 June.
Race fans will have an opportunity to have their photographs taken with these trophies, in return for a donation to the Joey Dunlop Fund.
The TT Chat Show which proved so popular last year will again be hosted by 'Milky' Quayle and Paul Phillips at the Villa Marina on the evening of Saturday 2 June, while there will be a chance to meet many of the top riders past and present during the Day of Champions on Thursday 7 June.
All proceeds from the Chat Show will go to the JDF; funds raised at the Day of Champions will be split between JDF and The ACU Benevolent Fund.
However, it is not just during the TT period that cash is raised for the Holiday Lodge. Last October, Ian Bradford (from St Helens) cycled around the TT Course and the Fund received £1868 for his efforts.
Linda Dunlop helped the cause by holding a well- supported black tie dinner at Coleraine and ardent Joey fan, Rosie Pollington, helped boost the bank balance when she completed the Great North Road half marathon in 2hrs 11mins last Autumn.
"What we are attempting to do is getting the message over to real Joey fans that there is a limit to how much the hard working volunteer committee can do and that they can help a great deal in ensuring that Joey's Holiday Lodge is open next year by organising their own fund raising events," says Foundation chairman, Kevin Quirk.
"TT 2007 promises to be the best ever, but the event starts a new era with TT 2008 and this facility should be there to reflect that."
For further information about this year's TT fund raising activities, or if you would like to organise an event yourself or through a motorcycle club, please visit www.joeydunlopfoundation.com or write to:
- Kevin Quirk
- 12 The Avenue
- Isle of Man
- 1M 26BA