2016 Adventures

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On Wednesday 20th January, the Anchor Boys and Junior Section went to Jumping Clay while the Company Section were visiting the Race Centre in Halifax

We had visited both venues early in 2015 and the lads were very much looking forward to returning.

The night began outside Jumping Clay. Despite the freezing conditions, one of the Juniors inexplicably turned up in shorts. As the venue opened, the lads excitedly looked around the shop pointing out various clay creations to the cries of “Don’t touch that”, “put that down”, “you look with your eyes, not your hands” from the Officers. Before any lasting damage was done, we ushered the boys into the classroom area where they took their seats ready to begin.

The boys were making minions, it’s hard to pick a character that is as popular with a five year old as it is an eleven year old but minions seem to do the trick. Once the boys had picked their colour, yellow or purple, the staff at Jumping Clay talked them through the next stages step by step.

The minions very quickly began to take shape. The staff at Jumping Clay introduce three basic shapes and build everything using these simple techniques. The lads were soon ready to personalise their minions by adding the final details. I think most of the boys also named and created detailed back stories for their minions- I remember being introduced to Frank the minion at one point.

The material at Jumping Clay is all air dried so the minions got put into a plastic lunch box to prevent them getting squashed on the way home. I’m sure you will agree, the end result is impressive, the lads were all pleased with their creations and managed to get them home in one piece (I think).


 As the Anchor Boys and Junior Section were adding the finishing touches to their creations, the Company Section lads were arriving at ‘The Race Centre’ in Halifax. The Race Centre houses ten racing simulators which have the same technology as the Formula 1 teams use to train their drivers on unfamiliar tracks. As our race co-ordinator gathered us together for our drivers briefing, there was a hint of tension in the air. We all wanted to win- as the only Officer racing, it was important that I won  finished on the podium  finished the race. “Which track do you want to drive lads?” asked the race co-ordinator. “That one” said one of the lads pointing at the one displayed on the screen “it looks easy…” The track in question was Kyalami in South Africa. In theory, it was quite an easy circuit. Apart from a few tricky corners, it looked like most of the track could be driven flat out. As we had all been before, we were put straight into a Formula 1 car. I knew from a previous visit that it is tough to get the best out of the F1 cars, you have to feed in the power or you will spin………and we did….frequently. 

We had a 20 minute practice session before we began the serious business of qualifying. The first couple of practice laps were complete carnage, I took out several fences on my first lap. There is a yellow flag that appears on the top left of the screen when anyone leaves the track- this never left the screen during the first ten minutes. Stranded F1 cars littered the run off areas, most of the session  was spent tring to aviod other cars as they tried to make their way back on to the circuit. The final straight gave us a chance to unleash the cars potential but even on this, relatively straightforward, piece of tarmac you had to concentrate. If you took the last corner slightly wide of the racing line, one wheel would pick up some dirt and you would spin…again.

By the end of the practice session, we had all set a reasonable time. “What did you get Matthew?” I asked. “One minute 14 seconds. You?” came the reply. I didn’t answer. We went straight into the qualifying session and I had at least nine seconds to find. Our lap times were all steadily improving despite some spectacular crashes. The qualifying session soon came to an end, I had driven a personal best lap time but would it be enough? No. Matthew had also improved his lap time to qualify in first place. As we studied the timing screens, discussing tricky corners and who had crashed into who, I spoke to a Race Centre veteran for some advice on the circuit. “Stay on the track” “Yeah, thanks” I said. “No, seriously, the person that stays on the track for the longest will win the race”.

With these wise words ringing in my ears, we made our way back to our race pods for the first race. “Wait for the green lights” said the race co-ordinator. After a couple of seconds of waiting, one of the cars raced passed. He probably needed a head start so the rest of us waited for the official start time and set off. A couple inevitabley span as they tried to floor it off the start line. I managed to get in to the lead. In the bottom corner of the screen, you can see your placing in the race and the amount of time between you and the other cars. The gap between me and the other cars was increasing. “Stay on the track. Stay on the track”. I repeated to myself. CRASH. Due to a bout of over-confidence, I had tried to take a corner took quickly. I was off the track. Tentatively, I made my way back on. I hadn’t lost too much time but Matthew was gaining. As we entered the final lap, Matthew was on a charge. Entering the final corners, still in the lead, I ran wide on the final corner. Matthew passed. Despite gaining on the final straight, Matthew won the first race by 0.9 seconds. Gutted.

It was all down to the final race. Jacob, handily placed in third, could still mount a challenge for top spot and Matthew could win by finishing second. We all managed to wait for the green lights this time and coming up to the first corner, Matthew and I were wheel to wheel. I decided to try and muscle my way through. There may have been some slight contact between the cars at this point. This was the closest I would get to the lead for the remainder of the race. Matthew cruised to victory. Meanwhile, we were all taken aback to see a car driving round the wrong way around the track for several laps! I won’t name the lad in question but when I asked the lads afterwards which one of them was driving in the wrong direction,  Tom answered “One! there were loads of them!”

We all improved our times throughout the evening and got more consistant as the night went on. The final table is below….


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As Captain, I felt it was important to let one of the lads win……that’s the line and I’m sticking to it! All joking aside, the fastest man won. At least, he managed not to look smug on the winners podium….

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All the boys enjoyed their evening out. The Anchors and Juniors were pleased with their creations and the Company Section had a lot of fun at the Race Centre. Thanks to the staff at both venues, I’m sure it won’t be long until our next visit but first I need to head to the Race Centre to get in some practice!


 James Pickles


5th Halifax (Elland) Boys' Brigade

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