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Frank Williams Academy launched in memory of legendary F1 team boss

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Claire Williams has launched a new charitable initiative – The Frank Williams Academy – run by the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) in memory of her father, one of Formula 1’s most successful Team Principals.

Sir Frank Williams, F1’s long-serving team boss who ran two teams during a career that spanned five decades and saw him win seven drivers’ titles and nine constructors’ championships, died in 2021.

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He spent most of his F1 career in a wheelchair as a tetraplegic after sustaining a spinal cord injury in a car crash in 1986. As Sir Frank reduced his workload, his daughter Claire took over as the family representative and was Deputy Team Principal in charge of the day-to-day running of the operation before the family sold the team to Dorilton Capital in 2021.

Claire was keen to continue Sir Frank’s incredible legacy and on Wednesday, at Hoare Memorial Hall in London’s Westminster and in the presence of the SIA’s patron HRH The Princess Royal, the Frank Williams Academy was launched.

(L to R): Frank Williams (GBR) Williams Team Owner with Claire Williams (GBR) Williams Deputy Team

Frank and Claire Williams pictured during their time running the Grove team

“My father lived the most extraordinary life, not least as one of the most successful Team Principals in the history of the sport and doing so from a wheelchair as a tetraplegic for the greater part of it,” said Claire. “His tenacity in the face of this adversity was just one of the many things that made him such an inspiration to many while he was alive.

“Following his death, I wanted to do something to continue that legacy, and the Frank Williams Academy couldn’t be a more fitting tribute. The work that the Academy will do will provide potentially life changing care for spinal cord injured people, just as the SIA did for my dad. With that support, the bounds of possibility are endless.”

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Williams Racing supported the launch, with board members Matthew Savage and James Matthews plus Team Principal James Vowles present. The Academy’s logo will run on the team’s FW45 driven by Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant at next weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

“We’re delighted to support the launch of the Frank Williams Academy,” said Savage. “To honour Sir Frank's life by providing fundamental education, care and support to change the lives of people affected by spinal cord injuries is truly special. Everyone at Williams Racing is looking forward to helping the Academy flourish.”

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 01: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW45

While Dorilton Capital now run the team, the famous Williams name remains

The Academy aims to raise £1.5m to launch and establish the Academy during its early years, with funding set to be used to help educate and train those affected by spinal cord injuries and healthcare professionals to ensure safe, appropriate care is provided.

The SIA has been Williams’ Official Charity since 2015, with Claire being appointed Vice President of the organisation a year later.

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“Inspired by Sir Frank’s success and motivated by the challenges he faced, the vision is to completely transform the availability of specialist expertise in health and care so that anyone anywhere has the best chance of a fulfilled life after injury,” added Nik Harley, the SIA’s CEO.

“Sir Frank was the living example of such a life. We’re so grateful to his daughter, our amazing Vice President, Claire Williams and to Williams Racing for backing this.”

You can make a donation to the Frank Williams Academy here.

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