Inspirational Matlock man and former rally champion continues to overcome the odds as he relaunches life story for charity

George Dawn and Alistair Sutherland with the original 3 Litre Metro Rally Car in which Alistair won the Championship.
George Dawn and Alistair Sutherland with the original 3 Litre Metro Rally Car in which Alistair won the Championship.

An inspirational Dales man and former British rally champion is to take his new book to Europe to raise money for Parkinson’s UK.

Alistair Sutherland, of Matlock, was crowned British Group B Rally Car Champion against all the odds in 1986.

His book Chance of a Lifetime tells the story of him coming from last place in his first race to winning the title by six seconds.

Now he’ll be travelling overseas with the book to raise money for Parkinson’s UK.

Alistair, who was diagnosed with the disease more than 10 years ago, has already raised more than £2,500 for the charity.

He said: “Winning the championship was literally a chance of a lifetime for me,” he said.

“I was handed the opportunity to drive the three-litre engine Metro 6R4 for the season.

“It was a car I’d never even sat in a few hours before the first race. It was an amazing year and experience with every conceivable obstacle and thrill met along the way.

“When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2008, I thought it would be good to tell the story and try to raise some funds for the charity at the same time.”

Alistair, whose family set up Sutherland Spreads, has received support from George Dawn who runs Mensa Printers.

“When Alistair told me about his plan to publish a book and raise funds for Parkinson’s I offered to help,” said George..

“Unlike conventional printers who may offer to print a bulk load of books, we keep our clients’ books in print by keeping the copy on file and printing short runs as and when they are needed.

“This means Alistair has been able to order books when he expects to sell them and when he gets orders. It’s cost effective and allows the book to be available for years after it would have normally gone out of print.”

The pair met at a Chatsworth Farm Shop summer market, where George sampled some of Alistair’s company’s pates .

Five years ago, Alistair launched Granny Mary’s, a new company based in Chesterfield which uses his grandmother’s original recipes as well as new ones the team has developed.

Alistair’s original donation was the largest single one made to the Chesterfield branch of Parkinson’s UK and the funds were used to enhance the lives of people with the disease through the provision of social meetings and outings, exercise activities and therapies and respite care.

Gerry Arber, Parkinson’s UK Chesterfield branch secretary, said: “Alistair’s support for Parkinson’s UK has been fantastic, as was his achievement in becoming British Rally Champion. His story is quite remarkable, and we wish him the best of luck with his new book.”

The original book, first published in 2014, is the story of the Clown Prince of Group B as Alistair was nicknamed.

The revised version will look at what lessons in teamwork can be learnt from Alistair’s experience and what individuals and teams need to do to overcome the odds.

Although Group B Rallying is no more in the UK, it is still revered by thousands of fans across Europe.

“It is this audience who love rallying and people who want an insight into what it takes to become the best in your field that I think will be interested in the new edition of the book, said

“Alas. I learnt so much from that year and have used it time and again to bring about success.

If I can help others to achieve their dreams and raise funds for Parkinson’s UK, then it will be yet another goal achieved.”