Gamer from Hemel joins virtual racing tournament to raise money for a charity that supports families of seriously ill children

The Virtual Racers Club was raising money for The Sick Children’s Trust - which helped out one of its members

Monday, 24th May 2021, 11:45 am
Updated Monday, 24th May 2021, 11:46 am

A dad from Hemel Hempstead joined a team of enthusiastic virtual racers from across the world as they turned their gaming into giving by hosting a two and a half hour racing tournament, raising £1,000 for The Sick Children’s Trust.

Ian Thomson is a member of Virtual Racers Club (VRC), an online community for fans of the Gran Turismo simulation racing game, which organised the Bathurst tournament for The Sick Children’s Trust after hearing how the charity had helped one of its members.

Matt Sykes, from Wickford, was given a place to stay by the charity at its ‘Homes from Home’ Rainbow and Guilford Street Houses when his son, Joshua, spent six months undergoing treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

Matt taking part in the racing tournament

Participants were asked to donate £10 to enter and as a result, £1,000 was raised which will go towards giving families with a seriously ill child in hospital a warm and comfortable place to stay across its ten ‘Homes from Home’.

VRC administrator, Ian Thomson, from Hemel Hempstead, said: “With most of us being fathers we could empathise with Matt's story and it was a very quick decision that we would use our first ever charity race to show support for a great cause that most of us could connect with on an emotional level.

“As a father of two, having either one of my children in hospital for any reason is one of my worst nightmares, let alone if they were on the other side of the country alone.

"The Sick Children’s Trust provides a service that helps keep families as close as possible through times when there would be no other support for them.

Joshua stood outside The Sick Children's Trust's Rainbow House where his parents were supported while he was in Great Ormond Street Hospital

"I am sure that keeping parents nearby to a hospital where their child is receiving treatment will make a huge difference to them, their mental health and well-being.

“The Bathurst race was a resounding success and it’s thanks to our wonderful competitors, our community, their friends, families and colleagues that we doubled our initially target and will look at doing more events like this in the future.”

Matt was pipped to the post and came second in the tournament, he said: “From a personal perspective it cannot be overstated how much impact The Sick Children’s Trust had during our son's six month stay at GOSH.

"Allowing us to be within a few minutes’ walk of the ward, but also providing a place of respite and community with other families going through the same thing literally kept our family together.

"Every pound raised goes directly to providing accommodation for families at the time when it's needed most.”

The Sick Children’s Trust relies entirely on voluntary donation to keep its ten ‘Homes from Home’ running.

Charlotte Coldrey, community fundraising officer at The Sick Children’s Trust, said: “Due to the pandemic and cancelled fundraising events throughout 2020 we experienced a challenging year which is why it is so incredible and fantastic that VRC decided to host a tournament for us.

"They have shown that you can still make a huge difference to others from the sofa in your living room, and have fun doing so. It’s a brilliant and creative idea, and we can’t thank everyone at VRC enough for their support.”