Mini magic

UnknownUnknown-3Sometimes having a deadline is a really good thing. Without it, we’re not sure our Italian Job Mini would have been ready in time for the 50th Anniversary Opening Ceremony on October 1. The car was tested on a rolling road last Monday – and everything seemed fine – and after a few stressful hours passed its MoT on Tuesday afternoon. I didn’t really doubt that it would pass, but it was nailbiting waiting to hear nonetheless! The Mini was well received among colleagues in EMS and Mary Hughes, Director of EMS, was brave enough to be the first passenger. The gearbox is too loud… so the engine is coming out and a new gearbox being installed. Luckily Stephen, my husband, had a spare in the garage loft… (don’t ask!).

On Wednesday evening, the 50th anniversary celebrations went very well and our Mini, The Kings Peach, received a lot of complimentary comments… Early on in his Mini racing career, Stephen used to race in Mini Se7ens and an alumnus told us he also used to race in that series! A lot of people came up to share their “I had a Mini” stories and it was great meeting them all.

Our final fundraising event on Thursday was the Gulbenkian screening of the original Italian Job film starring Michael Caine – it was really great to see the film on the big screen for a change and huge fun! I hope our Mini Adventure doesn’t end in the same way, though.

We don’t know the final fundraising figure from ticket sales kindly donated by the Gulbenkian Cinema, but I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

On Friday morning we took the Mini to St Nicholas School, Canterbury, which has 190 pupils. The school has three Sunshine Coaches and it was a great way to remind us why we’re raising money for Variety! The children were great and very excited to see the car… but the Kent Bunny definitely stole the show!

With less than a week to go before the Kent-sponsored Italian Job Mini has to go on parade for the first time at the 50th Anniversary Opening Ceremony on 1 October, the tension in the King garage is hotting up! The Mini is taking shape, although it seems that for every step forward there are two steps back… but there’s nothing like a deadline to focus the mind!

We are very grateful to the University for its sponsorship of our entry into the 2014 Italian Job rally… and to staff in many departments for their support in so many ways, not least a recent “cake event” that raised just over £173 last week.

The next big opportunity to support us and Variety, the children’s charity that we are raising money for is to buy tickets for The Italian Job, the original 1969 film starring Michael Caine. The Gulbenkian Cinema is screening this on our behalf and is donating a portion of ticket sales to Variety, after costs. It’s a fun way to support charity. Tickets are £10 and include a glass of wine or a soft drink. The film is on Thursday 2 October at 7pm. The Gulbenkian cafe is including some Italian dishes on the menu that night if you fancy a bite to eat beforehand. You can book seats online at or call the box office on 01227 769075. We hope to see you there!

This is how the Italian Job Mini will look when it's finished!

This is how the Italian Job Mini will look when it’s finished!

The Mini is being rebuilt from the shell of a former road Mini with parts dating from 1971. It's slow progress but getting there

The Mini is being rebuilt from the shell of a former road Mini with parts dating from 1971. It’s slow progress but getting there