Ted Heather 1937 – 2017 – An Appreciation
Words: Frank Sweeting
Ted Heather was, I think, one of the quiet ones with his own brand of humour. When he was Clerk of the Course for the West Wilts Motor Club’s famous, or was it the infamous, Tanner Trudge Time & Observation Trial he would sometimes ring me up pretending to be perhaps Sammy Miller or another well known rider. I would usually be certain it wasn’t who Ted said it was and would be racking my brains to work out who it was on the phone, stalling for time so I could decide who it actually was on the line!
Ted was very independent and didn’t find it easy to ask for help marking out, and you had to twist his arm to get him to agree that you could come out & help him setting up before the day. Then he would say at Club Meetings that he didn’t get much help! He was quietly very proud of the many Trudges when he was Clerk of Course. I think it was 19 or 24 and it was only years later, after the Club had stopped running the Trudge because of dwindling entries that I realised Ted had wanted to make that milestone. Ted said nothing when we decided to stop running.
Ted drifted away from the Club after that, but kept involved every year in the SSDT where he would be in the parc ferme and would be out at ungodly hours putting up Route Markers. I guess those early mornings were no trouble to Ted after the many years of early starts that he had as Postman working out of Corsham. I recall him saying to me, with a chuckle, that David Hempleman-Adams, the explorer had given him a sponsored anorak which David had used on an expedition!
Ted was a keen gardener, and his own immaculate garden impressed sufficient people to ask him to look after theirs that he had more than he could really cope with. He did a lot of walking after he ‘retired’ and with the new hip that he had late last year he was planning a walking holiday in September when he would have turned 80. He liked dogs and had a succession of large dogs although I don’t think he had another after his dog, Sam, died.
Ted played his part in the Wessex Centre too, he had been President & had been awarded the Harry Croft Trophy, he had been a Centre Steward spanning the times before the days when Stewards didn’t need licences and when they did!
It’s rumoured Ted ‘helped’ riders who wanted to enter the SSDT by ‘putting in a word to the Committee’. It was rumoured that Ted paid the SSDT Entry Fee for one of the Centre’s best riders every year. Ted would just smile and be non committal if I gently tried to persuade him to let on. We know Ted was actually hurt that one or two of those he did help never actually thanked him for his intervention. The last time we saw Ted was at the in the Fort William parc ferme last year.
Ted leaves behind his widow, Rachel, they had no children.
Rachel was very involved with the Wiltshire St Johns Ambulance Service, joining in 1955 and has been the Divisional Superintendent for the Chippenham District.
I remember Ted telling me, with another little smile, that he had conducted Rachel’s driving test when they were in the RAF in Germany. She passed!
My wife Phyllis was Secretary of the Meeting for the Tanner Trudge while Ted was Clerk of Course for quite a number of years, and they always exchanged Christmas cards. Last year Phyllis’s said we weren’t going to Scotland this year, and Ted’s said he had a new hip.
We heard on Monday that Ted had passed away late last week from Wessex Centre Secretary, Theresa Talbot, who had been told while at Sundays Vic Brittain Trial.
It was maybe 20 years ago that Ted had had an intestinal cancer which he completely recovered from. Some time after his hip operation.Ted had a DVT and a fall., He was readmitted & had another fall. A scan showed that he had a left lung shadow & a brain tumour, and he rapidly deteriorated.
Our thoughts are with Rachel. Ted, RIP – you will be remembered.