By: Caroline Cunha
ON THE eve of the Rally de Portugal, taking place in the Algarve this weekend, up and coming Welsh driver Simon Hughes, who is taking part in the Fiesta Sporting Trophy international (FSTi) event, paid a visit to the Casa dos Rapazes boys’ home in Faro.
Anticipation among the young boys at Casa dos Rapazes reached a crescendo when the sound of a roaring engine could be heard out on the home’s driveway. Welsh rally driver, Simon Hughes, was driving his two litre Ford Fiesta ST GpN car through the gates to pay the boys a special visit.
Following a successful inaugural season last year, the FSTi is running alongside the FIA World Rally Championship calendar on seven European events, including this weekend’s Rally de Portugal. It is the first time 24-year-old Simon has competed in Portugal, although he visited the Algarve on holidays as a child. He and his co-driver Claire Mole and team are staying in villas in Bordeira, Santa Barbara de Nêxe, and the pair had been practising all day at the Algarve Stadium in Faro.
Casa dos Rapazes receives support from a number of British expatriates in the Algarve and the visit was arranged by an old friend of Simon and his family, Algarve resident, Ian McNulty. “It’s a good feeling to be here; it’s so nice to see the boys’ excited faces. I’m lucky to be able to visit lots of countries and, if we can spend some of our time making visits such as this, then that’s really great,” said Simon. “I will definitely keep in touch with the home and if I compete here again then I’ll be back,” he promised.
Simon opened the bonnet of the car for the boys to take a peek at the engine, signed autographs and had his picture taken with the boys one by one sitting in the car. He also took time to look around the institution (officially known as Instituto D. Francisco Gomes) and its facilities, before being interviewed for Welsh television channel S4C Ralio.
Speaking about his chances in the event, Simon, the son of Ian Hughes, who was also a rally driver, said: “We finished fourth in Norway last month and that was after a few small problems, so we are confident about this event. We’d like to win the Fiesta championship.” With regard to the organisation in the Algarve, he said: “The event has been well organised so far. Lots of effort has been made and there have been no problems. The marshalls are very helpful and speak English.”
Currently heading the FSTi leader board is Briton Barry Clark, while Portuguese drivers Miguel Monteiro and Miguel Silva are also being tipped to perform well in the event over the weekend.
Casa dos Rapazes was first established in Faro in 1944 and, today, cares for over 60 boys aged between six and 18. These children are brought to the home on the request of Social Services or by the Minors’ Court, with the aim of providing them with a healthy environment to recover and develop, and to offer the emotional stability needed for their future reintegration in family life and society. They are offered a family atmosphere where staff focuses on the boys’ education, health, nutrition and general wellbeing. The board of the institution, headed by president, António Barão, comprises former pupils who, more than anyone, can recognise the needs of the youngsters who live there.
Future projects include the construction of a crèche in Gambelas and a primary education establishment. Various fundraising initiatives take place throughout the year.
For more information and to help Casa dos Rapazes call 289 880 710 or e-mail [email protected].>
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