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Champion backs new Open Road scheme

OpenRoadWideWebA two-time British rally car champion and his Mitsubishi motor will be star guests at a ceremony to officially launch a project aimed at giving motor-mad youngsters from Norwich the chance to harness their mechanical magic.

Open Youth Trust, which is also behind Norwich's pioneering SOS Bus, last year snapped up a garage at Millgate, Trowse, which was once used by Inchcape to prepare its contract vehicles with the dream of making it a hub of engineering activity.

That dream will finally become a reality on Thursday, January 25 when the Open Road project, as it has been dubbed, is officially launched - although it has been operating since October.

British rally hero Jonny Milner will be officially launching the centre and will make sure the event goes off with a bang by bringing along his Mitsubishi Evo 9 rally car which is likely to be one of the stars of the show.

Russ Dacre, project director, said he was delighted to have such a high-calibre signing to come along to the launch of the scheme which will offer a range of mechanical and engineering courses.

“Jonny has been provided courtesy of Snap-on who sponsors his car,” he said. “He's going to have his car there and to have that kind of profile at the event is fantastic.”

Mr Dacre said it was great to be launching the project officially, although the main thing was what it could do for the youngsters that used it.

“We're really excited about this project,” he said. “It opened in October and is going really well but it will be nice to get it in the public domain so everyone knows what it's all about.

“The project is good in itself as the workshop, but it's the benefits to young people which is key. They are going to get mechanical skills, building life skills, communicating with their peers, and learning about road safety - it's how these people are benefiting rather than the project itself.”

Earlier this year Open Road benefited from a £137, 000 award from the National Lottery children's fund which allowed it to fund two posts - one for a mechanic/instructor and another for an instructor.

As well as paying the wages of two staff members for the next two years the money was also said to help with further structural improvements to the building.

The project, which has the backing of Castrol Oil which has pumped £35,000 into it in sponsorship, formally opened on October 2.

In July PC Colin Lang, one of the trustees of the Open Youth Trust, which is also behind the pioneering Open youth venue at the former Barclays Bank in Bank Plain, said a number of schools had already booked students on to courses to be run at the site.

As well as having workshop areas to build and repair cars and bikes the trust plans to stock a library with vehicle manuals create a coffee bar and provide computer facilities.


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