It was another fun-filled family day out at our charity soapbox race earlier this month, with two fantastic charities at the heart of the action…

What a difference a day makes…

On Saturday June 8, we transformed Tunbridge Wells’ beautiful Dunorlan Park into the Crazy Jean’s soapbox racecourse for a second year! To say that the event was a success would be a gross understatement – all told, we raised a whopping £30,000 for charities Hospice in the Weald and Taylor-Made Dreams, with even more nail-biting action from no less than 40 participating teams!

“We were worried that we couldn’t beat last year’s event, but so many people have said that they thought it was even better,” says organiser and Chatty Hatter MD, Nicole Piesse Turner. “Not only have we raised more money than last year, but the track was more fun, with a jump covered in smoke-filled bubbles, sponsored by local plumbers Bennix, and more chicanes on the way down.”

Thousands of spectators turned out to support us on the day, with dozens of local businesses going head to head, whizzing their way through the picturesque parkland in a display of wacky and wonderful karts. Built exclusively by students from West Kent College, these ‘pimped out’ soapboxes soared over jumps and down a haybale-lined route, as crowds braved the rain to look on in awe.

But there could only be one winner: Formed of several companies, it was Team ‘Muckas’ that scooped first prize, with an impressively fast time of 29.31 seconds, followed by West Kent College’s own vehicle in second, and Tonbridge-based company RCV Land Rovers in third.

It wasn’t only the driving skills or racing performance that impressed, however. The ‘Best Dressed’ accolade – chosen by our celebrity ambassador, TV chef Rosemary Shrager – went to Tunbridge Wells locksmiths Insafe International, for their outstanding Back to the Future theme. Elsewhere, designs took inspiration from the likes of Despicable Me, Scooby-Doo and Only Fools and Horses.

Further highlights of the day included Rosemary Shrager – who hosted and closed the ceremony – speeding through the track in a kart driven by magician Adam Smith, while BBC Radio Kent DJ Anna Louise Walter broadcasted live as she hurtled down the hill. Our charismatic commentators Tom Swift and Edwin Wright likewise brought plenty of humour and entertainment to the proceedings!

As for their fundraising efforts, our wacky racers didn’t disappoint, with property firm The Park Lane Group raising over £8,000 for our two nominated causes, and HR Revolution, Muckas and Cityscope Solutions garnering more than £2,000. And of course, none of it would have been possible without the help of our fantastic sponsors, including Childrensalon, Dagan Services Ltd, Tube Monkeys, and Times Local Newspapers.

With plans already underway for 2020, Nicole – along with co-founder Garry Jeffery, and all of us here at Chatty Hatter – hopes that this now much-loved community event will continue to raise even more much-needed funds for charity going forward, while also bringing other ‘weird and wacky’ events to Tunbridge Wells in the coming year.

“It was an incredible event yet again, and totally worth all the blood, sweat and tears that went into a whole year of planning,” she concludes. “The phenomenal amount of money we’ve raised for charity makes it totally worth it – and we’re still counting!

“Thanks to everyone involved from the teams, to our sponsors, to the kart makers, and to the supporters who came along on the day – even when the weather wasn’t always on our side! It was an incredible day, and we hope to return again next year.”