‘Up Memory Lane’ – South West Trials Reunion 2015

Words: Dave Cole

Photos: Mike Naish

Trials riders, organisers and observers, from both the past and the present, gathered at the Fingle Glen Golf Hotel, Tedburn St.Mary, near Exeter on Friday the 9th October to enjoy the “Up Memory Lane” reunion lunch.

Gordon Jackson, Mike Jackson, Gwen White John Trible and Jeannette Dommett
Gordon Jackson, Mike Jackson, Gwen White John Trible and Jeannette Dommett enjoying the Up Memory Lane celebrations – Photo: Mike Naish

This function is organised once every two years, with this being the 7th edition of the popular get-together, it is organised by the South West Classic Trials Association.

The 102 attendees were met in the reception area and were welcomed by Jeannette Dommett and Jean Squire, two young ladies who have been around our sport long enough to be well known to almost all of the guests as they arrived.

As each competitor signed-on, they were issued with their name badge. This might sound a little unnecessary or over the top but I can assure you that with the majority of guests being involved in the sport during the 1950’s and 1960’s era, some not seeing each other for many years, recognition is sometimes a little difficult. Many have lost a little hair, some have gained, maybe, a little weight, others have possibly become reliant on spectacles etc. All-in-all the badges prove to be a god-send for this type of occasion.

Once old friends are reunited over a drink and a chat all are invited to gather outside for a group photograph, a great way to remember such an occasion, SWCTA Treasurer, Mike Naish, was on hand with his camera.

An enjoyable three course lunch was next on the agenda followed by the Master of Ceremonies, Alan Dommett, officially welcoming everyone and reading out a list of ‘apologies of absence’ that had been received. He then continued by remembering old friends who are sadly no longer with us since our last gathering, two years ago.

The list of recently lost friends remembered by Alan included Pete Thompson, one of the founders of the “Up Memory Lane” function and a former Devonport and District Club member who competed successfully in trials, scrambles and enduro’s. –  Bill Hartnell, the organiser of the reunion for the previous four occasions. Bill was one of the mainstays of the Taunton Club for many years, the Secretary and Treasurer of the South West Classic Trials Association and served the South Western Centre Management Committee in many different positions of trust and honour over the years. – Max King, Trials rider, radio broadcaster, journalist and enthusiast of all forms of motor sport. Max is probably best known for his book ‘Trials Riding’, which was the first book dedicated to our sport ever to be written. – Jim Finlay, an accomplished trials rider who also worked tirelessly for his Otter Vale Club for many years. Jim worked really hard setting out trials, cutting out sections etc and always had a smile and a quiet welcome at the ready.

It was now time to welcome the first of three guest speakers; this honour fell to Mike Hann of the Yeo Vale Club. Mike, as a former technical college teacher, spoke very confidently and amusingly about his interesting 60 years of grass track racing, scrambling and trials riding.

Mike Hann entertains - Photo: Mike Naish
Mike Hann entertains – Photo: Mike Naish

A career that included gaining awards in twelve SSDTs and awards in six Pre’65 Scottish events as well as continuing to the present day, picking up awards on an almost weekly basis.

Mike’s performance was followed by Reg Squire, a former Crediton Club member. Reg, now in his 80’s, told the amazinging story of his 60 odd years long riding career which included scrambling, motocross and trials riding before, at the age of 78, taking up road racing, something which he continues to do. Reg’s race bike, a RS125 Honda, a genuine Grand Prix machine in its day, was also on display at the function.

The final speaker was John Bassett, a former trials rider who spoke of his involvement in the organisation of all forms of motorcycle sport in the Cornwall Centre for more years than most of us can remember. He reminded us of just how diverse the Cornwall  Centre events have been over the years with scrambles, trials, grass track, hill climbs, gymkhana’s, speedway and road racing. He also told a tale or two, including the story of how Colin Dommett’s boots got to be thrown off the Tamar Bridge!

All three speakers were sincerely thanked for sharing their tales, all are real gentlemen, they are all quiet and very polite in manner and all have a mass of sporting knowledge behind them combined with bucket loads of experience and a mass of enthusiasm for our sport.

Derek Cheesbrough, a founder of the reunion along with the late Pete Thompson, presented two special awards, one for the furthest travelled to attend the reunion, this went to Richard Baker who had travelled down from Surrey. The second award was for the oldest guest (who had not won the award in previous years) this went to the President of the Devonport & District Motor Cycle Club, 85 year old Ivan Pridham of Plymouth.

Derek Cheesbrough presents Ivan Pridham with the Olde Father Tyme award - Photo: Mike Naish
Derek Cheesbrough presents Ivan Pridham with the Olde Father Tyme award – Photo: Mike Naish

Outside on the grass was a small display of period motorcycles. As already mentioned we saw Reg Squire’s RS125 Honda Road Racer, there was also the Ex Pete Thompson 500 Triumph (Roy Peplow replica) twin which is now owned by Ivan Pridham, plus Gary Kinsman’s very smart HT500 replica.

Gary Kinsman's 500 Ariel - Photo: Mike Naish
Gary Kinsman’s 500 Ariel – Photo: Mike Naish

Nick Hunt’s very original looking 1960 Greeves Scottish 201cc plus Clive Causer’s two AJS machines a very original looking 350 rigid and one of the now rare 250AT models produced in 1969.

 Nick Hunt's very tidy and original looking (ex Dave Cole) 201 Greeves - Photo: Mike Naish

Nick Hunt’s very tidy and original looking (ex Dave Cole) 201 Greeves – Photo: Mike Naish

Also on displayed were just over eighty photographs of local riders from the 1950’s to 1970’s. As most of the pictured riders were in attendance at “Up Memory Lane” there were a great many tales to be told with happy memories rekindled.

Thanks to Jeannette Dommett, the Reunion Secretary, and her helpers most guests thought the event to be the best of these popular functions to date, certainly the attendance numbers seem to keep rising, and all said they looked forward to meeting up again at Fingle Glen, where the venue has already been re-booked for two years time.

See the West Country Trials – UK Page on Trials Guru for more West Country trials

© – Article: Text copyright: David Cole – 2015

© – Images: Mike Naish

© – Layout and Publishing: Trials Guru/Moffat Racing/John Moffat 2015

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