A MOTORING-mad schoolboy has seen his efforts to bring a long-defunct classic car back to life recognised with a very special award.

Queen Elizabeth High School student Henry Dukes, from Bromyard, embarked on a project to build his own car aged nine, after coming across a seized 1937 Austin Seven Ruby engine in his grandparents' garage.

Just eight months later, the engine was running on the bench for the first time in 60 years.

Hereford Times: Henry Dukes with Ethelbert at Fawley Hill in Henley-on-ThamesHenry Dukes with Ethelbert at Fawley Hill in Henley-on-Thames (Image: Stephen Prior)

Meanwhile, Henry had been forming an ambitious plan to rescue and rebuild a full car, having scavenged his granddad Martin Prior's collection of Austin 7 parts and unearthed a chassis, a stripped body shell and various other parts.

With a shoestring budget, offers of parts, services and sponsorship from businesses and other enthusiasts, and tuition and supervision from family members, Henry has carried out almost all of the rebuilding and restoration work himself, detailing his progress on his Facebook page, Henry's Ruby.

In late 2022 the car, named Ethelbert, was officially registered by the DVLA, while Henry was invited to exhibit his car at the NEC's Classic Motor Show in Birmingham, and saw his project named 'Most Significant Classic of the Year' by Classic Car Weekly magazine.


Now 11, Henry and his car have had another busy year, with Ethelbert taking to the roads for the first time this spring, and picking up an award at the National Austin Seven Rally at Beaulieu in July.

Hereford Times: Henry Dukes, Princess Anne (centre), and Lady Judith McAlpine (right)Henry Dukes, Princess Anne (centre), and Lady Judith McAlpine (right) (Image: Stephen Prior)

And, on September 18, the young motoring enthusiast was invited to a special ceremony at the McAlpine estate, Fawley Hill in Henley-on-Thames, where he was named 'Young Preservationist of the Year' by the National Transport Trust, and presented with his award by the charity's patron, Princess Anne.

"It was amazing to meet Princess Anne," Henry said. "It is the first time I have met a Royal! I was very nervous walking up to the stage because she is a very important person, but she was very friendly and I had a long chat with her afterwards.

Hereford Times: Henry Dukes with Princess Anne at the awards ceremonyHenry Dukes with Princess Anne at the awards ceremony (Image: Stephen Prior)

"I'm very proud of my award. It has been three years of hard work, but it has been worth it."