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As some of you may or may not know, Derek Mowat, the owner of the Dunstane houses, has been fascinated by wheels since he started to walk. Growing up on South Ronaldsay in the Orkney Islands, he spent much of his childhood in mechanics’ overalls, working with his father who owned the local village garage. Here, he was enchanted by engines, tinkering with an array of vehicles, absorbing everything his dad said and did, and getting a lot more oil-spattered than every other four-year-old on the island.
Fast-forward a decade and a half, to Derek and Shirley’s arrival in Edinburgh, and Derek was setting up a business in the auto trade. At the beginning, he bought and sold everyday vehicles, but many years and many cars later, Derek bought his first Rolls-Royce. For most people, the story would have ended there, with the realisation of a childhood dream, but for Derek, it was only the beginning of another chapter.
Back to present day and the story continues… Look outside the back of the hotel and you’ll see a range of luxury (mostly British) cars which Derek has beautifully on display, from Aston Martins to Bentleys to Rolls Royces. His passion is evident in our car park.
Not long ago, Derek was presented with the opportunity to visit the 88th annual Geneva Motor Show with his friend Tom King. This alone is every boy’s dream; however, this time was particularly special- they had been invited to stay at the home of three times F1 champion and racing legend, Sir Jackie Stewart and his wife, Lady Helen Stewart, of course not to mention their two Norfolk Terriers, Pimms and Whisky… Without any hesitation flights were booked.
Before the motor show they spent time lunching with their two sons, Paul and Mark Stewart and of course discussing cars and aeroplanes. Interestingly, Paul and Sir Jackie owned Stewart Grand Prix, before selling out to Ford which became Jaguar Racing and is now Red Bull F1 Racing and Mark has his own film production company.
There was also a lot of discussion about the Geneva Motor Show its self.
The Geneva Motor Show began in the 1930’s and is very much the pinnacle of the World Motor Show Circuit. It’s an opportunity for car manufactures to showcase their latest and greatest to the public, bringing in thousands of eager customers, spectators and journalists alike.
It was here the iconic Jaguar E Type made its debut in 1961, driven over from Browns Lane, Coventry by famous Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis, setting off during the night for the 11-hour journey to Geneva, making it just in time for the launch. (Remarkably the great man is still alive today, in his 98th year!)
Sir Jackie introduced Derek and Tom to many interesting people, including Charlie Chaplin’s son Eugine, Rolf Knie of the famous European Circus Dynasty, Bernhardt Girder and Patrick Tambay, both ex Ferrari F1 drivers. Mansour Ojjeh, owner of McLaren, Lord March owner of Goodwood Estate, Allan McNish, 3 time winner of the 24 Hour Le Mans, Nina Rind, widow of Jochen, ex F1 driver, Simon Kidston Classic car Columnist and Nicho McBrian, Iron Maiden Drummer, who was displaying his much revamped 1984 Jaguar XJ6, celebrating 50 years of the “XJ6”. This car incorporated 3500-man hours, 4000 parts replaced or refurbished by Jaguar Land Rover Classic works at Coventry including an 1100-Watt audio system for full Iron Maiden effect!
(We wouldn’t have believed him either if it wasn’t for the photographs (see below).
After the show they retired to the house and moved on to the more important issues;
Sir Jackie’s main race now is “Race against Dementia” raceagainstdementia.com, a charity he now heads on a global scale to find a cure at all costs for this cruel illness. (The word ‘dementia’ refers to a group of symptoms that affect the brain these include recognition, memory, language and planning, which deteriorate over time.)
Unfortunately, Lady Stewart has become a victim herself. Derek’s mother also developed dementia at the age of 69, when physically fit, healthy, actively walking, reading, dog walking, far from overweight, and came well within the category experts advise us to all stay at to avoid minimum risk of contracting this degenerating and deadly illness. She passed away 5 years later.
The statistics state:
45 million people worldwide have this disease,
Dementia is contracted by someone every 3 seconds.
1 in 3 of us will fall victim with it.
Here at The Dunstane Houses, we fully support Sir Jackie’s Charity “Race Against Dementia” and we will be actively working on raising awareness. We will be implementing a donation scheme here at the hotel, of which we will be announcing the details of soon.
Now is our time to come together and act on one of the cruellest illnesses out there.