This is one I was really looking forward to for a couple reasons. Firstly because it was overseas, ok so not that far overseas but far enough to necessitate a flight, I love flying. Secondly because I wasn’t going alone as Simon Cox would be accompanying me. And, because of Simon’s contacts, he was able to connect with business contacts within BNI (Business Networking International) in Belfast and inform them that we were coming over. And the result of that contact with BNI was a level of hospitality that we really didn’t expect. Julie Gray, from BNI, was at the Belfast City airport to pick us up which was so helpful as I’m not too sure what the taxis a like with wheelchairs. From there Julie had arranged with Thomas Fegan, the Centre Director at Eddie Irvine Sports, for both me and Simon to have a go at some go-kart racing.
Now it’s been some years since I got behind the wheel of a go-kart but I was willing to give it a bash, not literally of course. I tried a go-kart with hand s controls first, but I couldn’t get very good grip on the handles very well so decided to use a standard go-kart. I had a little more luck with that but didn’t feel totally comfortable with the brake pedal and for that reason felt it safer to call it a day. However, Simon stayed out on the track and gave his go-kart what for!
We did get a chance to have a go on some racing simulators and I’m please to say, despite crashing my car and turning it over I still beat Simon. Although having come 7th and 8th out of 8 racers is not a lot to write about really.
In the afternoon Julie very kindly gave a tour of some of Belfast’s past trouble spots. We saw so much on TV in the past it was good to see these places for real and to put them into context. I was very impressed with the murals, painted on the sides of building and walls. They depict the struggles that went on for years.
The following day we got up at around 5:30am to attend a BNI business meeting where I got to present The 50 List to a group of businessmen. Not as daunting as I was expecting it to be, they were very receptive to what I had to say and a friendly bunch of chaps to boot. I’d also like to think that this would go towards my other 50 list challange; Give a talk as a guest speaker.
After the meeting Julie very kindly gave us a lift to the Titanic exhibition. Probably the best exhibition I have ever been to. It was a complete story of the history of Belfast before the Olympic class of ships. The Exhibition sits on the site where the Titanic and Olympic were constructed and part of the slipway is still there today. The story goes right through from manufacture, launch, the sinking to discovering Titanic in the mid 80s. If you’re in Northern Ireland I strongly suggest you see this great exhibition. And no, I’m not on any commission.
I very much like to thank Julie Gray from BNI for her assistance in getting around and for the history tour round Belfast. I’d also like to thanks Thomas Fegan from Eddie Irvine Motorsport for his hospitality in letting us lose on his go-karts. A trip that I will not forget.