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Celebrity chef Bryn joins big fundraising drive in a 1960s Mini

Celebrity chef Bryn Williams swapped the kitchen for some quality time with his dad and dozens of Morris Mini car enthusiasts.

The father and son duo brought two of the iconic British vehicles in a massive convoy which travelled from Colwyn Bay to Adventure Parc Snowdonia at Dolgarrog in the Conwy Valley.

The Minis in the Mountains run, the third to be staged by enthusiast group Mad Welsh Minis at Adventure Parc Snowdonia, was in aid of the Ty Gobaith/Hope House children’s hospices and passed by close to the charity’s North Wales facility at Ty’n y Groes near Conwy.

Chef Bryn Williams with his 1962 Mini 7 Club . Picture Mandy Jones

Bryn, who owns the eatery at Porth Eirias and the well-known Odette’s Restaurant in London’s Primrose Hill, brought a 1963 Morris Mini van to the event as well as a Mini pick-up.

The van was one of the oldest to attend the event and has been immaculately restored.

Bryn, who hails from Denbigh and has his own show, Cegin Bryn on S4C, has always been a fan of the Mini.

“My father always had Minis when he went grass track racing and I’d go along and would want one for myself.

“I’ve had the van for a couple of years now and had some work done to it including a respray and added some branding,” he said.

While Bryn went around to admire the other vehicles dad Eifion opened up the van’s bonnet and the back doors and poured himself a cuppa from a flask.

A retired mechanic, he said he had raced Minis on grass tracks.

“I must have smashed up more than a dozen of them over the years. They’d all be worth a bit these days,” remarked Eifion.

In addition to the two at the event at Adventure Parc Snowdonia, Bryn said he also has a Mini Cooper S and a Mini Moke.

There were two Mini Mokes at Dolgarrog this year and one of them had been driven more than 800 miles across four countries.

Manfred von Tzchope lives in Wiesbaden near Frankfurt in Germany and has travelled extensively in the 1980 vehicle which was synonymous with the cult television series, The Prisoner, which was filmed at Portmeirion, the Italianate village near Porthmadog.

He said the vehicle had been assembled by his father from parts obtained from various parts of the world.

“The British chassis was smaller than this one which my father obtained from Australia. He obtained other parts from the manufacturer and assembled them in Germany. It is quite easy to drive and it has been driven for more than 500,000 kilometres and visited 30 countries,” he said.

Manfred was accompanied by another Mini driven by his friend Jutta Buedel. Both vehicles, she said, were registered within a few days of each other in 1980.

A Mini which had travelled a shorter distance to Adventure Parc Snowdonia than Manfred and Jutta was the beautifully restored Mini Cooper owned by Nigel Davies of Valley near Holyhead.

The Network Rail signalman had spent eight months during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic restoring the vehicle which he had discovered stored in a shed.

He said: “It’s been completely restored to what it was when it left the factory in 1979 and the engine has been completely rebuilt,” he said proudly.

James Owen, of Mad Welsh Minis who organised the event, said it was the third they had staged at Adventure Park Snowdonia with the first held in 2018 and repeated the following year.

The Covid-19 lockdown led to the 2020 event being cancelled and a virtual event was staged last year as there were still restrictions in place during the organising stages. He said there were more than 60 Minis registered at the 2022 event.

“The Mini is a British icon and everyone has a story about the vehicle. They may have owned one, almost certainly been a passenger in one and inevitably has a story to say about it.

“And we also raise money for a very worthy cause,” he said.

James used to work as a photographer at Adventure Parc Snowdonia but now lives in Newquay in Cornwall. He had driven his immaculate 1988 Mini the 375 miles from Cornwall via Bristol and Manchester without the car missing a beat.

Ty Gobaith spokeswoman Alison Marsh said the event last year raised more than £1,700 for the children’s hospice.

“The previous two events raised similar amounts and we are very grateful for the support of voluntary organisations and enthusiast groups like Mad Welsh Minis to help run the two hospices,” she said.

Dylan Evans, of Adventure Parc Snowdonia, added: “We’re pleased to be able to host the event this year for the third time. It’s great to see so many Minis driving into the car park and having them all parked up in one place.

“We’re particularly pleased that they are using the occasion to raise money for such an incredibly important charity which supports families at the most difficult times in their lives.”

The first Mini, a very small, two-door, four-seat car, developed as ADO15, rolled off the production line at the British Motor Corporation (BMC) plant in Longbridge, Birmingham in August 1959. It was marketed under the Austin and Morris names, as the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor

It was designed for BMC by Sir Alec Issigonis and its space-saving transverse engine and front-wheel drive layout – allowing 80 per cent of the area of the car’s floorplan to be used for passengers and luggage – influenced a generation of car makers. In 1999, the Mini was voted the second-most influential car of the 20th century, behind the Ford Model T, and ahead of the Citroën DS and Volkswagen Beetle.

Mini models included the Morris Mini-Minor and the Austin Seven, the Countryman, Moke, 1275GT and Clubman. Performance versions of these models used the name Cooper, due to a partnership with racing legend John Cooper. The original Mini continued in production until 2000.