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FIONA ARMSTRONG: Meeting the great Jackie Stewart

Sir Jackie Stewart, wearing his trademark tartan and white helmet, sits behind the red steering wheel of a classic race car at the annual vintage Revival event at Goodwood.
Sir Jackie Stewart, wearing his trademark tartan and white helmet, sits behind the red steering wheel of a classic race car at the annual vintage Revival event at Goodwood.

What is it about Scotsmen and motorsport?!

Think Jim Clark and Allan McNish. Think David Coulthard. Then there is the other very famous one…

This week I am sent to interview Jackie Stewart. Or rather, to give him his correct title, Sir Jackie Stewart.

The ‘Flying Scot’

Three times Formula One champion. Almost 100 races. 27 Grand Prix victories under his belt.

Twenty years ago, the lad from Dunbartonshire was knighted for services to racing. Yet over the years the ‘Flying Scot’, as he was nicknamed, did more than win races.

After he retired in the early seventies, there were his relentless campaigns to make drivers and tracks safer.

There was his work with Dyslexia Scotland. Stewart himself is dyslexic and wants to see more help offered to those with the condition.

Then there is his current crusade. Raising money to fund pioneering research that could offer treatment and a cure for dementia.

Sir Jackie Stewart Classic

I meet this racing legend in the Borders. Thirlstane Castle is famous for its car rallies.

And now a thousand veteran, vintage and classic cars go on display in the Sir Jackie Stewart Classic, a motoring event with a benevolent mission.

The monies raised will go to his latest charity, Race against Dementia. This is a condition that affects some 50 million people round the world, including his beloved wife, Helen.

One of Scotland’s finest sportsmen, everyone says Stewart is a thoroughly decent man; approachable, fun – and determined.

Nerves all round

They are right. And yet was such a track star, I am nervous.

And I am not alone. As we wait for him to appear, the cameraman and the director are also jittery.

But in he strolls, announcing that he is nervous of us. There is a handshake here, a joke and a smile there. He goes on to do a cracking interview.

Back at home, life is not nearly so glamorous.

Outside the first tatties in the polytunnel are ready and need to be forked out.

Rows of elongated radish are lying there, waiting to be pulled. And the courgettes are flowering, in anticipation of starting to fruit.

Domestic life goes on

Inside the laundry basket is full and I note that the pot plants are starting to droop through lack of water.

Yes, domestic life goes on. Despite that, there is some no small excitement as I return from my travels.

Indeed, as I walk through the front door, I, too, am greeted like someone super special.

Not by the chief, you understand. No, as usual it is the doggies who cannot contain their glee.

Huge excitement

Mama is back home, and everyone must go crazy!

They jump about and race round, the littlest MacNaughties nibbling gently at my knees; the bigger one pushing in to get first pat on the head.

I wonder if Sir Jackie Stewart has a dog. If so, he, too, must get the star treatment when he comes home.

More star treatment. Watch this space. Or rather watch this ITV Border interview when it finally appears.

 

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