A FORMER Forfar Academy pupil is helping to drive forward a development project involving pupils in four Angus primary schools.
Graeme Dear, from Scone, who operates his own business, G. D. Aquaculture Management, has ploughed £1,000 into Hedzup Racing, a joint venture involving Tayside Police and four Angus secondary schools, which sees 14 and 15-year-olds involved in building bikes fit for racing.
The project is led by ex-racer Ian Pert from Edzell, who has around 40 youngsters from Forfar Academy, Arbroath High School, Arbroath Academy and Carnoustie High School, under his belt.
Ian, who came out of retirement three years ago, having been involved in bike racing throughout the nineties, takes sessions at each of the four secondaries once a week and also runs a Friday evening session at the community wing of Forfar Academy.
At the sessions, eager youngsters are taught how to build bikes from scratch and get them race fit.
The bikes are then transported to the East Fortune circuit at the south side of Edinburgh, where Ian and two others, Colin McDougall from Blair Atholl and Alan Cummins from Arbroath, do their racing.
At the moment four bikes have been prepared for the coming season – with pupils taking turns to attend the five meetings at East Fortune between April and October to act as pit crew, carrying out repairs as and when required.
The project was launched in 2008 and progress is such that the ‘crew’ succeeded in claiming the runners-up spot in three championships last season.
“We raced two bikes last year and I won on both a number of times,” explained Ian. “The aim this year is to win the Senior Forgotten Era and the Pre-Injection 600 titles.”
In addition, it is hoped to crown the season by getting a bike ready to race at the Manx Rally – with the aim of getting to the chequered flag.
All going well, three pupils from each of the four secondary schools will win places to travel to the Isle of Man to act as the race crew.
All this is being made possible thanks to the development of Hedzup Racing – and the backing the initiative is receiving.
In addition to this latest £1000 donation from Graeme Dear, who was educated at Forfar West School before going on to Forfar Academy, the venture is sponsored by the drinks giant Diageo, with valuable input from other local biking and motor businesses, to help meet the costs of replacement parts for the bikes, transport to and from race venues etc.
In addition to the thrill of putting together bikes fit for the race circuit the pupils are learning how to deal with real-life pressure situations.
“It’s all part of youth development,” explains Ian. “The pupils learn how to use their skills and work as a team. They learn how to put a bike together, and get it ready for the race circuit, and they all contribute to the success achieved by the rider.”
Forfar Academy rector Melvyn Lynch lauded the success of the project.
“It’s possibly one that’s unique – having teenagers involved in preparing bikes for racing at such a high level of competition.
“We have pupils from four Angus schools involved in an initiative that involves preparing machines for senior championships.
“It’s all about team-work, the challenge of the competition and about winning.
“In addition to the sessions held at the four schools there is the Friday night event at Forfar – and it’s fantastic that the programme is being supported by Tayside Police and is attracting sponsorship from Diageo and others.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for secondary schoolchildren and they are responding to the challenge very well indeed.”