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Pole Position for all of South Northants by Joshua Wilson

Author: Joshua Wilson Published: 22nd July 2021 10:40
Joshua Wilson aged 11 pictured here unloading the Formula One donated surplus food in Towcester Joshua Wilson aged 11 pictured here unloading the Formula One donated surplus food in Towcester 

You know something is up when your mum comes into to your room and sits on your bed in the morning.  “Josh,” she said “You know how I help Katie at TowFood Community Larder?  Well she has asked your Dad and I to take his van to help collect some food surplus from Grand Prix at Silverstone this afternoon.”  

My mind went into free fall, formula one cars zooming round the track, the tension of the competition, crowds of excited fans all in one world class sporting event that everyone is talking about.  

“But” continues Mum “as you are only 11 you will have to stay with your Granny just for a short time while we help Katie.”

Crestfallen I pull on my favourite shirt (the one that always brings good luck) and go out in the garden and kick a ball against the garden fence imagining that I was the one that actually scored the winning goal that England failed to get at the penalty shootout at Wembley.

The day progressed without event until after lunch my Mum received a call from Katie saying that we had to go to the circuit right now as the traffic system would be changing to prevent traffic entering the circuit and we would have to go RIGHT NOW!– yes that meant all of us!  (Yes! My lucky shirt worked again!)  Mum grabbed some cool drinks and the three of us jumped in the cab and headed for the circuit.  

At the gates we met a friendly man called Stephane Bazire who is head of sustainability and he gave me a wrist band and showed us where we could go.  Overhead flew an incredible display by the Red Arrows soaring up into the clear blue sky painting patterns with the red, white and blue vapour trails coming following their acrobatics.  The crowd went “oooh” and “aah” as they passed over the giant structure of the stands that surround the race track.  People, cars and trucks were everywhere mostly in a hurry, everyone excited (but the most excited of them all was me – I had to keep pinching myself as I could not believe I was actually here, here in Silverstone at the British Grand Prix).  

The noise was amazing, the wheels of the cars screamed on the hot tarmac in temperatures that were higher than the average pizza oven.  We were all covered in sweat and I was thinking about Lewis Hamilton dressed in leathers in a helmet and charged with adrenaline, maybe one day that could be me too.  The crowd must have been thinking similar thoughts as the screams of “HAM-IL-TON” echoed across the Northamptonshire countryside, surely Lewis heard it too.  

As soon as the race started we all rushed to the back of the kitchen at the hospitality tent and the chefs started passing out the food that they would not use.  Katie triaged the food putting chilled food in the cool boxes or loading ambient food onto my Dads van.  I started carrying and loading up case after case of vegetables, bread, eggs, fruit, drinks etc everything looked fresh and new just like they do in the supermarket.  I could not believe how much of it there was and that if we had not been there it would all have gone into the dustbin and ended up in land fill.

All loaded up we headed for Towcester Town Football Supporters club where Miranda met us to load the food into fridges, freezers and the kitchen weighing and screening each item to make sure that it was safe to give to the local community the following day.  Katie followed and said that she had just received another call from Stephane to ask us to return later to do another collection.  Immediately my Mum said we could not do this as I had to go to bed.  I protested this was my last week of primary school and I promised robustly that I really would be bright and attentive in class even if I did go to bed late.  Dad knew that Katie needed the van to be able to collect the food and between Dad’s common sense and my cogent arguments Mum really didn’t have a chance.  We headed back to the circuit again, being one of the first vehicles to travel on the route back in once the one way system had finished.  It was beginning to get dark but the electric atmosphere of the circuit was still present.  The big wheel continued its slow journey round giving its passengers a view of the entire flat area of the Silverstone circuit; the home of Grand Prix.  People staggered on their way to the exit, weary from the heat, laughing and singing, all happy at the fantastic home win for Lewis Hamilton.  Stephane met us again and we drove in convoy back to the paddocks to the kitchens where pallets of food that was now no longer needed to feed the many people involved in the race including drivers, managers, engineers, agents, press and other VIPs was generously donated to TowFood.  I rushed to help load the vehicles working harder than all the adults, nipping between them to get the next boxes loaded.

I went to bed late stroking my Silverstone wrist band and smiling at the thoughts that I was able to play my part in sharing food within the community; and get a glimpse of Lewis Hamilton in his finest hour.  Note to self: make sure I wear my lucky t-shirt again tomorrow.

The following day the food was distributed in Towcester, Roade and Brackley through the Community Larders.  The Grand Prix sharing the surplus with the local community ensuring that all hungry families in the area could share with this vitally important event in our local area. Food surplus collected through the TowFood Community Larders and Fridges in South Northants, reach over 1000 people every week and this additional 2 tonnes of food from the F1 Grand Prix was enjoyed by over 200 people by 11 am on Wednesday morning.   

Post script

“Thank you to Stephane and the team at Silverstone and Formula One who made it possible for us to share so much good food with our local community.  Working in partnership with Silverstone to prevent waste and to help build back our community following the global pandemic is a great honour and I am grateful to all the amazing volunteers that help this to be a true South Northants community response.” Said Katie Steele, the Coordinator of Towcester Community Larder.

Rt Hon Dame Andrea Leadsom MP commented “I am delighted to see the local collaboration between the business and community sectors in South Northants on such a successful Grand Prix weekend, congratulations to all the volunteers including Josh who helped to bring this food to the South Northants local communities.”
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