NO-ONE likes getting their mail late so, as a postman for the past 18 years, Ben Thornton knows all about the importance of speed.

In fact, Ben may have a claim to fame as Britain’s fastest postman because, when he’s not delivering letters, he’s posting fast times on the racetrack.

The popular farmer’s son has built a reputation as an engaging and reliable postman in Darlington town centre, where the market traders are among his customers. But he balances his busy working life with an unusual hobby in motor racing, hurtling round tracks such as the Alain Prost karting circuit at the world-famous Le Mans in France.

And this year, he’s taken his obsession to a new level by forking out £2,500 on buying his own kart and joining a team on a mission to raise money in memory of a two-year-old little boy called Reuben Clark, who died a year ago from Neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer.

Wayne and Danielle Clark, of Darlington, were devastated when their “true little hero” lost his fight for life but they are determined to raise money for research into the disease. Wayne, therefore, launched the “Race 4 Reuben” team with the aim of competing in 24-hour kart endurance races.

Ben, 40, is one of the team members who take it in turns to drive for six hours in one-and-a-half hour stints to complete the gruelling races.

The team has competed in two 24-hour races in 2018, one at Le Mans in July, and the other at the slightly less exotic setting of their local track, Teesside Autodrome, near South Bank. Their aim is to raise £10,000 and there are already plans to return to Le Mans next July.

“Racing at Le Mans was nothing short of mind-blowing. I just love the speed and the competition but doing it for such a good cause makes it more worthwhile than ever,” says Ben, who grew up in Darlington and now lives in Gainford.

He got into karting eight years ago when a colleague at work set up an outing to Teesside Autodrome for a one-off bit of fun, but Ben was hooked before he’d completed his first lap. He returned for another go, then another, and before long he was competing in local championships before testing himself in the endurance races and venturing further afield.

This year is a milestone, with the invitation to join the Race 4 Reuben team, and the investment in his own kart.

“Now I’ve got my own kart, my aim is to travel the country, taking part in more races, and trying to take it to a new level,” he says. “It would be a dream come true to win races in my own kart.”

Winning races, raising money for cancer research, and fitting in his job delivering letters in Darlington town centre, there’s no chance of the first-class Ben Thornton slowing down any time soon.

• To help raise money for research into Neuroblastoma in memory of Reuben Clark, go to and search for “Race 4 Reuben”.