New bonnet decals represent 25 years of Variety Bash participation

OLD FAITHFUL: 1966 Holden HR with its new bonnet decals showing Ian's 25 years of joining the Variety Bash.
OLD FAITHFUL: 1966 Holden HR with its new bonnet decals showing Ian's 25 years of joining the Variety Bash.

To mark his 25th Newcastle Variety Bash Ian Saxby has gone all out decorating his faithful vehicle, a 1966 Holden HR.

The sedan has been on 24 of those Bashes and now the bonnet tells the story of Ian’s silver anniversary in support of the children’s charity Variety. 

This year’s Bash leaves Newcastle on May 20 travelling to New England and then onto Narrabri through the Central West and Riverina before returning to Newcastle via Orange and Mudgee on May 26.

Ian Saxby ready for his 25th Variety Bash

Ian Saxby ready for his 25th Variety Bash

The first Bash held in 1985 was begun by businessman and philanthropist Dick Smith who came up with the idea to take a few mates for a drive through the outback in old cars and raise money for a charity. This event raised $250,00 for Variety who assist children with disabilities, chronic illness or who are facing geographic isolation or financial hardship.

When Ian first joined the Newcastle Variety Bash 1992 there were 16 cars in the event and they raised $46,000. “In 2018 106 cars have entered and we expect to raised over $1 million,” he said. “Its such a fabulous event but most importantly 95 per cent of the monies raised goes to where its needed most helping children and that’s why I keep coming back this charity does truly outstanding work.”

The week spent driving around the countryside also provides Ian with a break from his usual occupation running the family’s Saxby’s Coaches.“Two days on the road and I relax and realise the business can operate without me – for a week at least,” he said.

Ian estimates he and his sponsors have raised between $400,000-$500,000 for Variety.

“What I love about the trip is we meet many of the children and their families Variety has helped over the yeasr. It makes you realise your fundraising and those of the other participants can make a real difference for kids,” he said.

“Variety often helps children who can’t receive assistance from any other organisation including governments and I can assure you there are plenty of children facing real difficulties who need our help.

“For example communities have been selling raffle tickets for months trying to raise funds and Variety get to hear about their efforts and send through the money to help that community. On Bashes we hear this type of story over and over again its so heartwarming.”

On the road during a previous Bash trip

On the road during a previous Bash trip

Ian is the last entrant from the inaugural 1992 Newcastle Bash who is still participating in the event and given this love of Variety its unlikely he is going to retire anytime soon.

He did about 20 Bashes with his mate Gary Meyer and since he retired he has gone with his son Craig or another mate Jason Oakes who is joining him again this year.

Jason operates Gasoline Alley Mechanical in Muswellbrook where Ian’s Holden undergoes it’s rebuild each year to make it ready for another Bash.

Jason also worked hard on preparing the special new bonnet with the photographs from the previous Bashes including the two Ian did around Australia.

During his years on the Bash Ian has only ever run three cars – a testament to the rebuilds and the hardiness of the current Holden he drives.

Up to 20 cars this year will be coming from the Upper Hunter which pleases Ian. 

Ian wants to encourage others to enter the event saying its very enjoyable and the charity drags every cent they can out of you but that’s part of the fun especially when you know where and what that money does for children.

“Entrants pay all their own expenses and volunteers give freely of their time and expertise to run the event. For example the owner operator of a tilt tray travels up each year from the south and donates his time and vehicle – absolutely fabulous effort on his behalf,” said Ian

Ian wanted to thanks his local and longtime sponsors who without their support he could not have raised the money he has been able to over many years.

They are: Cole Air, Singleton-GIO, Moore’s Auto Electrics, Mike’s Auto Parts, Paul Taylor Shed, Gasoline Alley Mechanical and of course his own business Saxby’s Coaches.

“I also want to thank my wife Claire – who holds the fort while I am away and does much much more,” he said.