Young go-kart racer recycles pit lane cloths to buy toys for Leicester Royal Infirmary
A young motor racing enthusiast who suffers with asthma has come up with an ingenious way of helping poorly children at Leicester Royal Infirmary while also doing his bit for the environment.
With Leicester’s own Roger Clark - best remembered for his two RAC Rally wins in the 1970s - as his granddad, you could say Benjamin Clark, eight, from Peckleton, near Mallory Park, has motor sport in his blood.
But while brother Archie, nine, stormed to the MSA Bambino British Kart Championship title last year, a competition in which Ben finishing a creditable ninth, the younger sibling had his eye on a different goal.
Mum Debbie said the thought came to Ben as the family, including dad Oliver, toured the country supporting the two boys’ go-kart racing passion.
She said: “With their grandfather being such a famous rally driver in the sixties and seventies, both boys are mad about motor racing and have been racing go-karts since 2016.
“Last season was the first full season they’ve both raced together and it took us all over the British Isles, from Scotland to Kent, with Fusion Motorsport.
“Ben hates the waste he sees at every race meeting he goes to, in particular the loads of dirty microfibre cloths that get binned after they are used.
“They are made of polyester and do not degrade.”
Ben said: “I just hated it. It was horrible and made me want to start recycling them. So I asked mum and dad to help me.”
The other inspiration for the Ben’s Bins recycling project was him falling ill over the winter.
Debbie said: “He’s much better now and has learnt to use his inhaler properly and deal with his asthma, but he struggled with it over the winter and had several stays in the children’s respiratory ward at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
“Every time he went in he was moaning about the lack of toys for children to play with.”
Ben, who wants to be a racing engineer when he grows up, said: “There were only a few games, it was mostly Lego but some of the pieces were missing.”
He decided to start collecting the discarded microfibre cloths from the racing teams and, with the help of mum’s laundry skills, began repackaging them to sell back to the teams.
Debbie said: “It’s no mean feat I tell you. With all the oil and grease they take a lot of soaking before you wash them but they come out as good as new and ready to reuse.”
Go-karting teams can buy a pack of three cloths for £5, or five for £10 – and they’ve been selling like hot cakes.
Debbie said: “We have a giant recycling bin in our garage and left bins with the other teams too.
“Everyone has been really supportive and we’ve collected thousands of cloths since we started in April.”
An initial fundraising target of £1,000 was quickly passed and Ben recently visited Ward 12 at the Infirmary to hand over the first batch of toys and entertainment gear.
Items included personal DVD players; board games; interactive toys; dolls houses and racing sets.
Hannah Jones, play specialist at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “We really appreciate how Ben and his family have worked really hard to raise money to donate toys to our ward.
“Providing patients with the opportunity to experience normalisation through play is essential for their well-being and development during their hospital journey and with Ben’s Bins we are better equipped to do this.
“Thank you Ben!”
Debbie added: “I’m bursting with pride for him. He’s done so well and is really making a difference."
Ben’s Bins’ next target is to raise money to buy games and entertainment gear for the children’s cancer ward, Ward 17, at the Infirmary before shifting attention to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
And Ben is already plotting another recycling challenge.
"Recycling tyres, that's my next plan," he said.
To get involved, or learn more, visit Benjamin Clark Racing on Facebook.
Article Source: Leicester Mercury