Obituary: James Hunt

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The Independent Online
FEW PEOPLE will be aware that James Hunt, the star of gossip columns and race track, had a social conscience, writes Steven Burkeman (further to the obituary by David Tremayne, 16 June).

In 1991, I organised a meeting in Bloomsbury of grant-makers interested in supporting work for change and development in South Africa, to be addressed by a leading liberal South African editor. Most of us were gathered when I opened the door to a scruffily distinguished looking figure in jeans, who asked if he could park his bike in the hall. I knew I had seen him somewhere before but couldn't place him. Gradually light dawned, but we were all rather puzzled: what was James Hunt doing at a meeting like this?

A colleague button-holed him during a coffee break and found out. Commentating for the BBC meant commentating on the South African Grand Prix, and having his commentaries sold to the South African Broadcasting Corporation. He felt that it was wrong to earn money from this, so he quietly - through a Nottingham-based trust - ploughed back the money he earned in this way into black-run development projects. To me, the fact that no one knew about it made it all the more impressive.