Latest News Monday 6th December 2021, 8:10am
BELLE Vue might have missed out on Premiership silverware... but they still ended the season as winners!
In this case, it was the generosity of their fans that ensured the Aces have a new trophy to go in the cabinet after they topped the standings for contributions to the Ben Fund.
The Manchster club, which raised £2,023, were the only outfit to top the £2000 mark from track collections throughout the summer.
But it was a close run race with Championship side Berwick (£1,903) and Kent (£1,838) and top flight Ipswich (£1,868) within a couple hundred quid of the Aces.
Fittingly, the SRBF trophy, presented annually to the club with the record collection, was handed over at Belle Vue's awards night to co-promoters Adrian Smith and Mark Lemon by SRBF chairman Paul Ackroyd.
Ackroyd said: "We need to say a really big thank you to all of the fans of all the clubs and also to all those riders who helped with the track collections and especially to the Belle Vue supporters for winning our annual shield for the first time."
Track collections, reintroduced this summer after a barren 2020 when the season was voided because of Covid-19, raised the magnificent sum total of £22,744 with all 18 clubs – six Premiership, 11 Championship and stand-alone National League club Mildenhall – pumping in an average £1,263 to the Ben Fund, a remarkable achievement with 13 tracks reaching four figures.
Ackroyd added: " Our expenditure rthis year is likely to be around £75,000 and, so far, we have financially helped 16 current riders, 3 retired riders and our 10 wheelchair-bound riders."
Among riders injured in racing incidents this year were title-winning Peterborough star Ulrich Ostergaard, Adam Roynon, Ben Barker, Jordan Stewart and Matthew Weathers.
Others to come within the Ben Fund's compass were former Hackney rider and ex-British U-21 champion Allen Emmett, who suffered serious heart problems in his adopted Australian home and received help.
"The fact that we were able to help someone like Allen shows how broad our reach is," said Paul. "We want supporters to get the message that we look after former riders as well as those providing us all with entertainment today.
"For me, the 10 riders who were paralysed in track crashes are almost the forgotten people, but they are not forgotten by the Ben Fund.
"We help them every Christmas and throughout the year if they have any special needs. It is very esy to forget them as time goes by, but we will ever do that.
"I think everyone knows there are occasions when a care package from a local council is not enough and the Ben Fund step in when necessary to make life a little easier or more comfortable.
"We normally help about 30 to 35 current riders but this year has been an exception because the season was shorter than normal.
"We didn't start until May and normally by then we have helped 15 or more riders who have been injured in the early weeks of the season."
Track collections were down because of circumstances that saw clubs drop out and the absence of collections at shared events.
The traditional Ben Fund Bonanza wasn't held either, which deprived the SRBF of anything between £25-30,000 but despite this, the Fund still just about came out on the right side, balancing income and expenditure.
"Usually the Championship Fours, The Riders' Championship, the pairs Championship, the National League Fours and any other shared events bring in around an extra £7,000 but we are missing that this year," explains Paul.
But he insists: "We benefitted from other events because of the efforts of different people.
"Bruce Cribb has given us £2,353 from the sales of his Cribby Story Book, Mitchell Davey raised £7,080 with his bicycle ride, Aidan Collins handed over £1,000 from his 100 donut challenge and Kyle Howarth's cycle ride generated £5,000.
"The Somerset Riders' Equipment Fund had a surplus of £2,070 when the Rebels pulled out of racing and, on top of that, we have had people give us money in memory from funerals and, to date, that is just under £7,000 this year.
"Other donations come to just over £10,000 and as a charity we have our investments income so by the end of the year the books will be balanced.
"Last year, despite Covid, we just broke even, it was pretty much like-for-like in that we didn't pay out anywhere near as much as normal because with no racing there were no injuries.
"Last year was also helped enormously by the quiz night British Speedway organised in YouTube and there were various other fund-raising projects."