The Hope Classic Rally is set to dazzle Surrey with its beautiful drive

Participants at the 2019 Hope Classic Rally in their stunning Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing

Participants at the 2019 Hope Classic Rally in their stunning Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing - Credit: Hope Classic Rally

Glamorous cars, sweeping Surrey hills, A-List celebrities… The Hope Classic Rally on September 11 is set to be a storming day filled with glitz and glamour. As well as these, another kind of diamond is set to shine also – the charity the event is raising funds for, WeSeeHope. We speak to charity founder and car rally event chairman Phil Wall about revving up the engine for an event full of heart.

Chatting to Phil Wall is like chatting to an old friend. Within the first five minutes of our conversation it already feels like we’ve caught up, having bonded over a mutually-favourited coffee shop and other anecdotes. His charisma and passion for everything he does shines throughout, which is remarkable to experience throughout our conversation. 

As he tells me about the beginnings of WeSeeHope, it’s clear where this energy comes from. ‘I was in South Africa in 1997, and doing some leadership training, and I was taken to this camp with about 60 kids all under the age of five, all HIV positive – a real Heartbreak Hotel. Her mother abandoned here a month ago, having lived on the streets for nine months with her, and and she was nearly traumatised so nobody could get any response from here,’ he explains. ‘Being the overly confident, cocky, young Dad, I tried my best moves and none of them worked. But half an hour later they brought the kids into the room, and I picked her up, and that was it. I fell in love in 20 minutes. I rang up my wife and said to her, "Hi darling, I’ve fallen in love with another woman – can I bring her home?"'

This year’s classic car convoy will cover over 100 miles through the stunning Surrey Hills

This year’s classic car convoy will cover over 100 miles through the stunning Surrey Hills - Credit: Hope Classic Rally


Despite their best efforts they weren’t able to adopt the young girl, which was totally devastating for the family. However, instead of leaving it there they decided if they couldn’t help her, that they would try and help everyone else. Originally setting up as a charity targeted towards HIV/AIDs fundraising in 2001, the charity changed name and gently steered its direction in 2015 to WeSeeHope – an all encompassing name to showcase the broad work they continue to do. ‘We work in five countries in southern East Africa helping people develop longer term sustainable futures. We do this through providing child development centres, child rights work, village investor programmes and more,’ Phil explains. 

‘Over the last 20 years, over 750,000 people gone through our different plans. People get out and go to work for all sorts of different reasons every day, and for us the sense of purpose, the example we lead to our children, and what we’re able to give to people gets us out of bed, which is just amazing.’

Some of the cars featured in the Magnificent Seven Auction

Some of the cars featured in the Magnificent Seven Auction - Credit: Hope Classic Rally


Being able to help these communities is the driving factor of the Hope Classic Rally fundraising event. On September 11, the county will be fired up with a glorious showcase of the best vehicles around. ‘We're inviting people to bring their own classic cars to The Oatlands Hotel, and we're going to wind our way down through the Surrey Hills to the South Downs, to the end point of the Wiston Estate, which is the historic home of the Goring family who are hosting us on the day.’ He continues: ‘There will be interviews with people from the classic car industry, live music, lunch, as well as an auction.’ Formula E's Nicki Shields is just one of the famous faces confirmed, and other A-Listers are tipped to attend too. 

Entry is free to the rally, but donations to the charity are highly encouraged. If you don’t have a vintage car but still wish to take part, auctions are taking place for people to bid to drive one of The Magnificent Seven for the day (see collectingcars.com). These include the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, the Lancia Delta Integrale Evo II, the Ferrari 250 SWB and more. The auction prizes on the day include McLaren experiences, holidays, leisure activities and more. All moneys raised go towards WeSeeHope, allowing Phil and the team to continue the wonderful work.  

The magnificent Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing is one of the cars featuring in the Magnificent Seven auction

The magnificent Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing is one of the cars featuring in the Magnificent Seven auction - Credit: Hope Classic Rally


When I ask what he’s looking forward to the most, he responds, ‘The drive is beautiful, but I’m most excited about talking to a broader community of people about these remarkable young Africans. Our great privilege is to partner with to tell their story. It's not about us – it’s all about them.’

So whether you have a vintage car, fancy driving in one, or simply wish to help support the hard-working charity behind the whole event, the Hope Classic Rally is a more than worthwhile way to spend your Saturday. 

Find out more about the Hope Classic Rally at hopeclassicrally.org and find out more about WeSeeHope at weseehope.org.uk