Beneficiary Case Study: 2
Beneficiary Name: Alex
Muscle Dream Number: 149th
Alex from Sheffield who lives with Myotonic Dystrophy, a genetic condition that causes progressive muscle weakness and wasting, first heard about MHF’s Muscle Dream wish fulfilment interventions through the muscular dystrophy support group he was part of.
|Alex Tait says:|
“As soon as I read about the Muscle Help Foundation’s Porsche Muscle Dreams Driving Experience programme I just knew I had to put my name forward. Ever since I can remember I have always wanted to race cars. When I was nine years old, I went to Donnington Park to watch BOSS GP with my Dad. It was a very wet day – typical British weather! I remember the atmosphere being full of excitement – the engine noises, the smells, the buzz of healthy competition all around us.
“I had tears in my eyes and my Dad looked at me and asked what was wrong? But actually, there wasn’t anything wrong. The tears were happy tears, because I had had an overwhelming and momentous realisation; I knew from that very day that cars and racing was where I belonged and I knew that the path, or should I say the ‘road’ ahead of me, needed to be filled with a world full of cars and racing – it was my destiny.
“Experiencing the sounds, speed and excitement of the classic F1 cars in front of me that day lit a fire in me that has never gone away and I hope never does. That same year I also got the chance to drive a Ferrari 360, using a booster seat to reach the pedals.”
But even though from that day forward Alex was a proper petrol head, it wasn’t until some years later that he got the opportunity to experience being in a fast car for the first time actually on a racetrack, thanks to the charity’s Porsche Muscle Dreams Driving Experience programme.
Alex continues: “When I applied, I honestly never thought I’d get a place. But then the call came saying I had, and the excitement was overwhelming. I had been in a Porsche and Ferrari before but never in a proper racing environment, so I knew this was going to be on a whole new level. And it was.
“Spending the day at the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone, zooming around the track and feeling like I could conquer the world – there simply aren’t enough words to capture just how amazing the experience was. Once I’d got a taste of the racetrack, quite frankly, there was no going back.
“That day will stay with me forever and it set me on a path that has made my dreams become a reality. It had far reaching impacts on me beyond the day itself; the whole programme changed my outlook. I felt empowered and confident like I never had before and I now believed I could realise my dream of becoming a racing driver. All because of that special day in a Porsche at Silverstone.”
Later that same year Alex, with the support of his family, put himself forward for a scholarship for disabled drivers and successfully secured a place.
Alex continues: “I competed for a season in Autosolos and Autotests, and also took part in the Ginetta Junior scholarship. I didn’t go into it with any delusions of grandeur, I just wanted a good day out. I felt on the back foot to be honest as others had been driving longer than me but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.
“So now I had had my first taste of circuit racing and realised that it was something I really wanted to continue so I got my racing licence and then chose BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship to race in and took part in three rounds at Donington, Silverstone and Brands Hatch, gaining confidence and experience every time I raced.”
Pictured above – Alex with his mum Collette (13th June 2013) at Whittlebury Hall
By the 2016 season Alex was racing in the Pre-2003 Production Touring Car Championship, achieving five podium positions and 4th position in the championship at the end of the season.
Fast forward to today and Alex has been racing for ten years, has won eight championships, completed a 24hour race, has his instructor’s licence and is committed, whenever time allows, to coaching the talent of the future – he wants to support those with a disability who are interested in pursuing a racing career, helping ignite their passion and get a chance to live their dreams, like he did.
|Talking about MHF’s unique Porsche Muscle Dream Driving Experience programme nearly ten years ago, which he credits with starting his journey to where he is today, Alex says:|
“That MHF experience was a game changer! It completely shifted my mindset and after taking part, I knew I could do anything I wanted to – I wasn’t going to let my disability stop me.
“I realised that day at Silverstone, no matter what adversity you face in life you can get round it – I carry that mindset with me today in everything I do. I also realised that it was important to surround myself with people who inspire me – one of those people is Michael McGrath, CEO of the Muscle Help Foundation charity. An inspiration and role model, his energy and positivity certainly rubbed off on me – we remain in contact to this very day.”
As for what’s next, Alex has plenty on the horizon including a full season of racing championships, more coaching and mentoring, probably another 24-hour race (why not?), as well as heading overseas to race in America (Daytona). The ultimate dream, however, is to race at Le Mans – so watch this space.
“Still to this day, I am truly grateful to the MHF charity for giving me an opportunity that changed the course of my life forever. I remember sending Michael a thank you note after the Porsche programme back in 2013 and so did my dad. This is what we both said at the time:
“Hi, it’s Alex Tait from Porsche Class of 2013: I thought you would be interested to know that thanks to the Muscle Dream and your determination to do anything, this has inspired me to follow my own dreams and gain my ARDS racing licence with a view to competing in a few rounds of the junior touring car championship. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you once again for making me realise how much I want to follow my dreams and giving me the determination to do this.” Alex, 14yrs
Darrell Tait, Alex’s Dad said:
“In June 2013, our beloved son Alex was so lucky to be chosen as part of the Muscle Help Foundation (MHF) charity’s ‘Class of 2013’ Porsche Muscle Dream Programme. This event ignited his confidence, self-belief and his can-do attitude to pursue a career in motor sport – his dream! Some ten years on, Alex is now a 24-year-old professional racing driver, instructor and coach. This has all come about thanks to your MHF charity and the incredible opportunity that Alex, a fully-fledged Muscle Warrior, was given all those years ago. Thank you hardly cuts it!”
Wind the clock forwards to Sept 2022 when the MHF charity delivered the 10th Anniversary of its flagship Porsche Muscle Dream Driving Experience Programme in partnership with the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone and also Whittlebury Hall – the event attracted a record number of nominations. In the end, 10 beneficiaries from across the UK and their families attended along with some 25 Muscle Warrior Volunteer Hosts.
In addition, a very special VIP invitation was extended to the charity’s newest Muscle Warrior Ambassador, Alex Tait who chatted with all of the charity’s beneficiaries and who shared his story at the 10th Anniversary Celebratory Dinner.
Pictured above – Alex’s racing helmet, together with his dad Darrell (9th Sept 2022).
|Michael McGrath adds:|
“The ethos of the charity is rooted in the idea that well executed experiences that fulfil a young person’s dreams and aspirations, can be powerfully transformative to their lives – Alex is an exceptional example of this, and I am incredibly proud of what he has not only achieved for himself but more impressively, what he is now doing by inspiring and helping others realise their racing ambitions as a mentor and coach.
Some 10 years on from when Alex was a beneficiary of our 2013 Porsche programme, there was something really special having him and his dad Darrell join us for our 10th Porsche Anniversary programme. Now more than ever, young people today need authentic role models, people they can look up to, learn from and be inspired by – in my opinion, Alex is not just a great role model but also an exceptional Muscle Warrior!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I’m immensely proud of the charity’s social currency that changes lives and gives hope. 2023 will be the charity’s 20th anniversary and in that time, I have witnessed just how empowering our work is in not just boosting confidence and uplifting self-esteem, but also witnessing the unlocking of new talents and skills, clearly illustrated by Alex, but also observing the social power in bringing vulnerable families together to create cherished memories that last a lifetime.”
Check out the charity’s 10th Porsche Programme Anniversary Flickr Photo Album HERE.
Contact the charity HERE should you have any further questions.