Claire Williams, daughter of the late Sir Frank Williams who founded the Williams Racing Formula 1 Team, announced the “Frank Williams Academy”, a charitable initiative honouring her father.
Frank Williams suffered spinal cord injuries in a car accident in 1986 after which he spent his life in a wheelchair as a tetraplegic. The Briton passed away back in 2021 at the age of 79.
Claire Williams took over from her father in running the racing team as Deputy Team Principal in 2013, but left her post over the weekend of the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, after Dorilton Capital bought the team.
Since 2015, Williams supported the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) as their official charity since 2015, with Claire Williams appointed at Vice President on the SIA in 2016.
Now, Claire Williams announced the launch of the Frank Williams Academy, that is pioneered by the SIA, and was supported by the Williams Racing , with board members Matthew Savage and James Matthews present as well as Team Principal James Vowles.
Williams said in a statement: “The Academy supports SIA’s vision of a fulfilled life for everyone affected by spinal cord injury by building vital specialist expertise across the health and care sector.
“Claire Williams is spearheading an appeal to raise £1.5m to launch and establish the Academy during its early years. Funding will be used to help educate and train those affected by spinal cord injuries and healthcare professionals to ensure safe, appropriate care is provided. Through research and development, the Academy intends to champion best practice, raise national standards and build an evidence base to influence long-term transformational change.”
The Frank Williams Academy was launched at an SIA reception at Hoare Memorial Hall in Westminster, attended by the charity’s patron HRH The Princess Royal, as well as Claire Williams.
Claire Williams said: “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. 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.”
Matthew Savage, Chairman of the Board, Williams Racing added: “We’re delighted to support the launch of the Frank Williams Academy. 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.”
Nik Hartley, CEO, Spinal Injuries Association, commented: “The launch of the Frank Williams Academy is momentous, not only for SIA but for spinal cord injured people across the UK. 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. 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.”
Frank Williams founded the F1 team that carries his name in 1977, and the team went on to achieve 114 grand prix wins, with nine Constructors’ Titles and seven Drivers Titles.
The team last won a race in 2012, when Pastor Maldonado won the Spanish Grand Prix that year.