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Ben Fund Bonanza returns to Leicester
Redcar event cancelled
Redcar the venue for Bonanza 10 on 7th October
Wednesday 16th December 2015
by Mike Hunter
The eighth staging of the Ben Fund Bonanza on behalf of the Speedway Riders' Benevolent Fund will be at King's Lynn on Saturday 12th March.
It will be an individual event in the traditional 16 rider, 20 heat format finishing with semi-final and final. There will be a place too for the best of Neil Vatcher's junior prospects.

Organiser Paul Ackroyd has once again stressed the need to run a successful event to continue the vital backing for riders who suffer ill fortune. "Understandably and rightly there has been huge support for Darcy Ward in his courageous fight to overcome the effects of his injuries.

"I hope this will continue and at the same time we will carry on giving as much support to the other seriously injured riders who need our ongoing support."

King's Lynn is obviously one of the premier venues in modern British Speedway and perhaps the only surprise is that it hasn't been staged at the Adrian Flux Arena, as it is now called, in any of the previous seasons.

Welcoming the event to his track, BSPA Chairman Keith Chapman said "Yes I'm very pleased. I have been interested in having it before, but it's good that it goes to different venues. This year we offered our services and our offer has been taken up. I'm looking forward to it.

"We have good facilities for the injured riders to attend."

No club is immune to the threat of injuries of course, and King's Lynn riders suffered last season, as their promoter acknowledge.

"Last year we had Rory's accident and of course Lewis Kerr so these remind us how much it matters."

Hopes are high for a very good field at a track which the riders enjoy. It has been acknowledged that in recent seasons some of the leading riders haven't made themselves available for the Bonanza but Chapman believes he can help Paul Ackroyd to turn that round.

"I hope we can get a few more in, twist their arm a little bit and get them to come. Though they shouldn't need their arm twisted. I'm confident that come February we will have a good field in."

Keith Chapman is still as busy as ever so he was just jetting off last weekend for a well earned break over the Festive season before resuming his stewardship of the BSPA, King's Lynn Stars and the local football time. "Crackers really but there you go!"

One of the most welcome competitors on 12th March will be Lewis Kerr whose accident at Peterborough in the Premier League Fours focussed everyone on British Speedway on his recovery.

It was certainly serious but the courageous young man has come out the other side of his struggles, not just continuing to be an ambitious speedway rider but also a recent new dad!

He said "I'm very good, back to what I was and at the moment probably fitter than I was before I crashed! I'm training hard and feeling very well.

"I had a bleed on the brain just above my right eye. I can't remember anything about that whole week. I'm 100% about resuming my career. It probably helps that I can't remember what happened, and I can't wait for the season to start."

Like many before him Lewis has cause to be grateful to the SRBF as he readily acknowledges. "The Ben Fund were a huge help, they were absolutely a massive help with everything. Obviously with not riding and not earning they were a massive help with the bills.

"It's a great cause and I think everyone should ride in it. Quite apart from that it is a great chance to get in some laps at the start of the season and I'm happy that I'll be riding in it myself this season."

Lewis will be changing clubs in the top two leagues this season but is confident he can quickly resume his upward path in the sport. "I'm not riding for King's Lynn in the Elite League this season I will be at Lakeside. I do go well there and I think it will be a good home track, a technical one which not many people look forward to visiting.

"I found out that Ipswich were interested in me for Premier League and if I was to move away from Newcastle Ipswich would have been my choice. It opens up the possibility of Poland on a Sunday for example."

Lewis and Jessie of course have had more than just his great recovery to celebrate. "We have a little boy Cooper who is 9 ir 10 days old now. Everything has turned out brilliant for me in spite of the crash.

"We're planning on going somewhere hot in the new year and then getting in some practise. I have no qualms about coming back, just that I've been off a bike for so long as happens every winter really."

The Benevolent Fund, it goes without saying, is of ongoing importance in many riders' lives, and Paul Ackroyd reports that 39 riders and 11 paraplegic ex-riders have received assistance this year.

A new idea this year was to set aside a period for collections to be held around the tracks, and this proved successful. Ackroyd says "The 'August Ben Fund Month' proved to be very successful with a significant increase in Track Collections, topped by Swindon with an all time record of £3449.00.

"Berwick, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Ipswich, Newcastle and Rye House also returned magnificent Collections. Due to it's success we plan to have August as Ben Fund month once again.

"We are very grateful to everyone who donated at Track Collections and also on PayPal.

"With Christmas coming up, we still have stock available of the
cartoon books which will make an ideal Christmas gift, £7.70 inc pp, email skidsprocket@gmail.com to place order."

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