And there we have it… the end of the IJ 2013 and although I say it again (as I do each year) I think we’ve just enjoyed the best Italian Job yet! I must close this ramble of a blog with a word of appreciation to one person who takes no credit (she asks for none) but clearly deserves it. This one person is the glue which holds all this IJ stuff firmly together and she has done so for 24 years; the one person who works tirelessly throughout the year to bring all the constituent parts of the event together to make one hell of a fine motoring event; the one person who like a swan looks serene on the surface while beneath it, her legs are paddling furiously; the one person responsible for turning a silly idea into a major fundraising event which has to date raised nearly £2.5 million for children’s charities and enabled many hundreds of people to make lasting friendships. The one person without whom there would never have been an Italian Job. She knows who she is and I guess so do you…… FSG.
A tradition of the Italian Job event which dates back to our very first run is that we always hold at least one Black Tie Gala Dinner during the event. This year was no exception. What made this year unique though was that we finished the event in Rome and so the Black Tie Dinner on Wednesday May 15th heralded the end of the #IJOB13…. it was to be our Closing Dinner and Awards Ceremony.
All teams hot-tailed it back to the Crowne Plaza Rome St Peters through the bustling rush hour traffic in order to have enough time to get ready and make pretty. Tonight we had to dig deep and make sure we gave the best impression we could for as well as eating, drinking, bringing the 2013 event to a climactic close, we had to applaud the winners and losers of the competitive part of the Italian Job 2013. For yes, tonight we would learn just who was good and who was bad at navigational rallying.
Awards being made tonight would be for: First place Navigational Rally, Second place Navigational Rally, Third place Navigational Rally, Oldest Mini, Best Dressed Mini as voted by the Jobbers and a brand new award debuting for the very first time… the Best Behaved Jobbers of 2013 Award. As the speeches began, a hush fell over the proceedings. Thanks and praise were lavished on all Red Hatters, the service crew and the top team at the Crowne Plaza Rome St Peters, who had made our stay so very warm and welcoming. The crowd was stirring though and becoming restless, for it was obvious they really wanted to know how well or badly they’d performed.
We began the prize-giving with the award for Best Dressed Mini. It was no surprise to many (for they had obviously voted for them) that the winners were Bill and Linda Handley in Team 28 … yep, those guys with the outrageous trailer complete with windscreen and two blonde dummies within. They collected their award and beamed from ear to ear. Next came the award for the Oldest Mini, won by Ian and Mary Sims in their original and pristine Mini Traveller. The car turns heads wherever it goes! Ian and Mary collected their award and returned to their seats. It’s great that Ian actually won something as the winning ticket in the Italian Job 2013 prize draw (to win a Mini) was bought by Ian and given away to his friend Carl Bellinger. Carl’s ticket was drawn by Mike Cooper in December 2012!
Next we awarded Third place Navigational Rally and this went to past winners, Roger ‘who turned off the lights’ Hunt and his beautiful wife Yvonne. They were pipped into second place by Isle of Man residents Ian and Mary Sims (who’d only just regained their seats from winning the Oldest Mini award!). If we’d had a snare drum we’d have had a drum roll at this point as the tension grew and we finally announced the winners of the Italian Job 2013 Navigational Rally as Duncan Cook and Steve Taylor – NEWBIES… in Team 03. The boys literally sashayed to the front of the room with a delightful spring in their step to accept the award and join an elite collective of Mini drivers who have taken on and championed the Italian Job Navigational Rally!
The final award of the night was the new one… the award for the Best Behaved Jobbers on the Italian Job 2013. To a standing ovation, violins and harps playing, the Team Gray Daughters Giulia and Hannah (12 and 9 years of age) stepped forward to collect their prizes. These two lovely young ladies were truly worthy recipients of this newly created award.