Steyning man’s passion for Minis leads to an honour from the Queen
A passion for Minis led a Steyning businessman to rally together scores of other Mini enthusiasts for a driving adventure to Italy.
And now - 30 years later - Mini-loving Freddie St George has been given a royal badge of honour for his efforts after the driving adventure and fundraising challenge turned into an annual event.
Freddie who co-founded the Mini trip - known as The Italian Job - with his 86-year-old Italian mother Guilia has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year honours.
The award was bestowed for Freddie’s services to charity. The annual Italian Job trip has now raised nearly £3 million for local children’s charities since the first road trip in 1990.
“It was just going to be a one-off to start with,” said Freddie. “I was sitting with a group of friends in a restaurant thinking what we could do. A couple of them had done the Beaujolais Run and thought it good but not as much fun as it could be.”
The Italian Job - named after the Michael Caine classic film - was born. Now each year around 100 drivers take part in the 10-day Mini trek across the Channel, through France and on to Italy and back - with all of them raising money for charity at the same time.
“It’s brilliant fun,” said Freddie, 51, who runs a magazine business. “I enjoy every single minute of it.”
But, he said, he didn’t feel he ‘deserved’ an honour “but I’m smiling like a Cheshire cat.”
He said he was accepting the MBE on behalf of everyone who helped to stage The Italian Job. “I couldn’t do it without them.”
Freddie, who has many family members living in Italy, also runs a series of other fundraising events every year.
This year - if the pandemic allows - Freddie, who met his now wife on the second Italian Job run, is organising a ‘Mile of Minis’ starting at Oxford and finishing at Dorney Lake. Around 150 cars have already signed up - with each driver also raising charity funds.
This year funds are going to the charity Buttle UK which helps families in crisis.