Bolton-le-Sands woman wins Lord Wakefield Challenge Trophy for her contribution to motorsport

For more than 50 years Ronnie Sandham has devoted her time and energy to promoting the best interests of motorsport, organising major rallies and encouraging youngsters to get behind the wheel.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 3:45 pm

Now her efforts have been celebrated nationally with the award of a famous trophy in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the sport, which she has followed ever since seeing her first cars in high speed action on a rally when she was a teenager.

Normally, Ronnie, who lives at Bolton-le-Sands, would have received her award at a glittering presentation evening at the Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall.

But because of the pandemic, the sport’s governing body, Motorsport UK, held its first virtual night of champions, hosted by Steve Rider, and beamed across the UK.

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Ronnie Sandham has been awarded the Lord Wakefield Challenge Trophy. Picture by Tony North

Ronnie was able to follow proceedings from her home with husband, Phil, who is himself a top co-driver in the sport. And, while she was unable to get her hands on the impressive Lord Wakefield Challenge Trophy, at least she has a photograph of it!

Her award, the “highest accolade bestowed upon a woman for outstanding performances or services to motorsport”, was presented virtually by Malcolm Wilson, managing director of M-Sport, based near Cockermouth, which has the only British team in the World Rally Championship.

Mr Wilson said Ronnie’s efforts, commitment and support in organising events was second to none and for him there was no-one more deserving of the award. Ronnie had been the driving force behind the Malcolm Wilson rally over the years and, lately with Myerscough College, by getting youngsters interested in motorsport.

Ronnie said she had been overwhelmed by the award, presented in the name of the British Women Racing Drivers’ Club.

She had loved the sport ever since she saw her first rally stage near Kirkby Lonsdale when she was 18.

She subsequently became a marshal and had been behind the wheel in competition, never finishing last but nowhere near finishing first! “I am an organiser,” she explained. “That is my forte, rather than competing. People in motorsport are fantastic. I consider all competitors my friends and, in doing what I do, I’m trying to do my best for my friends.”

The first woman to be elected to Morecambe Car Club’s committee, moving on to be secretary and chair, Ronnie has just stood down as chair of the Association of North East and Cumbria Car Clubs, having also represented them at regional committee level for many years.

lRonnie’s award was the penultimate of the ceremony... the final one went to Lewis Hamilton. “That’s not bad!” Ronnie reflected.