Category Archives: Obituaries

Peter Valente 1953-2021

Peter Valente enjoying the Highland Classic – Photo: Iain Lawrie

The Scottish Trials community was both saddened and shocked by the sudden passing of Peter C. Valente on Sunday 2nd May 2021.

Peter Cosmo Valente was a trials rider from Edinburgh who rode his first trial in April 1971, The Campbell Trophy Trial organised by the Dunfermline and District MCC on his four-speed Bultaco Sherpa.

Sadly, Peter died after suffering a suspected heart attack at a trial run in Fife, exactly 50 years later. He competed every season from 1971 to 2021.

He had ridden events for 50 years and died doing what he not only enjoyed, but was passionate about.

Peter had been participating at the East Neuk club’s trial at Drumcarro, near St. Andrews in Fife when he felt unwell, returning to his vehicle. There were first aiders present and then Paramedics who did their utmost to revive him, but sadly he slipped away peacefully.

Peter was born in Edinburgh in June 1953 and was Trials Secretary of the Melville Motor Club in the 1970s. He was also a member of the Hawick & Border club and latterly had been actively helping the Galloway MCC set up their trials section.

He enjoyed road runs and took part in the annual Moidart Run and T. Arnott Moffat Memorial Run since its inception in 2017. Peter always turned up with something interesting and enjoyed the cameraderie and friendship of like-minded enthusiasts.

Peter and his younger brother Simon were active riders in trials both north and south of the Scottish border. He was the type of person that proved you did not have to be a ‘top flight’ rider to gain the respect and comradeship of other competitors and officials in the sport.

Peter also enjoyed fun at events and around 1975, he and brother Simon appeared at an Edinburgh St George trial wearing bright red jerseys that were almost identical, but written in block capitals on the backs were the words: “THIS ONE” and “THAT ONE”.

Peter was inspired to ride trials in February 1968 while spectating at the Edinburgh Southern ‘Coronation Trial’ which took place near Bathgate, West Lothian and was bitten by the trials bug.

Over the years, Peter owned just about every trials bike known to man, this included his first Bultaco Sherpa four-speeder, progressing to five 5-speed Bultacos,  one of first Mk 2 Ossa MARs in Scotland, then a Kawasaki KT250  followed by a Honda TL250 which he found overweight and didn’t keep it long. He also owned one of first Beamish Suzukis in Scotland, followed by a Montesa 348, Fantic 200, Yamaha TY250 and latterly a Montesa 4RT.

Peter competed in two Scottish Six Days Trials. His first was in 1977 on the Beamish Suzuki, but the front forks compressed heavily and failed to rebound, he soldiered on with no front suspension for a couple of days but cried enough and was forced to retire. Undeterred, Peter returned six years later in 1983 on the 156 Fantic when he finished in 206th position and he was satisfied that he had taken on and finished the historic event.

Trials Guru’s John Moffat gave his own personal tribute:

I have known Peter Valente since he first started riding, three years before I took up the sport, as I observed at Scottish trials for five years prior to riding myself. He was the sort of person that was easy to talk with and when I got a bit older, I was in Peter’s company along with his brother Simon, Graham Smith, Dave Mowat and Roy Kerr when we all were members of the Hawick & Border club which was run by the Smith family and some others.

I remember when we all went south to spectate at the Scott Trial, in 1978 and we all squeezed into Peter’s Renault 5 car and followed round the course, stopping off at various sections to watch the aces at work. We had the time of our lives that October Saturday and on several occassions Peter had the little Renault airbourne. Going up was fine, but the landing was rather interesting!

I discovered that Peter’s middle initial ‘C’ was actually ‘Cosmo’ and this highly amused us all, because there was a television character at the time portrayed by Les Dawson called ‘Cosmo Smallpiece’. We all thought it highly amusing, well all except Peter, and when he got over the initial ridicule, he actually entered a few events as ‘Cosmo Valente’.

Peter C. Valente was a keen trials rider, an enthusiastic road rider, cyclist and sportsman. He was highly regarded by all who knew him. He never lost his schoolboy enthusiasm for the sport and the pastime of motorcycling. I had heaps of respect for Peter and also his brother Simon, they were a fine pair of brothers.

We had the best of times and the best of friendships.”

G.F. Smith; J.O. Moffat; P.C. Valente & R.A. Kerr – Photo: Eric Kitchen

George Turner 1930 – 2021

George Turner, a former Chief Inspector of E Division in Lothians & Borders Police Force, who also was a committee member of the Scottish Six Days Trial and then Chairman of the SSDT and Edinburgh & District Motor Club Ltd, has died following a period of illness, aged 90 years on March 16th 2021 at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

George was in charge of the Police car fleet, based at Police HQ at Fettes in the City of Edinburgh.

Originally from Stockton, Warwickshire, George was a keen supporter of the Scottish Six Days Trial and Pre’65 Scottish Trial. His late wife, May who died in 2000, was a member of the SSDT results team in the 1970s through to the 1990s.

His funeral service took place at Stirling Crematorium on Thursday 25th March, 2021. Fittingly, the song ‘Streets of Edinburgh’ by The Proclaimers was played during the service.

Sincere condolences are extended to the Turner family at this sad time.

Murray Walker dies at 97

Popular TV commentator, Grahame Murray Walker OBE, has died aged 97 years.

Born on 10th October 1923, he was known throughout his life as Murray Walker, he was the son of racing motorcyclist Graham Walker who was also a motorcycle journalist and early radio commentator. Graham also won the Lightweight TT in 1931 on a Rudge.

Murray’s first experience of motorsport was actually motorcycling and he took up trials riding and competed in the 1949 Scottish Six Days in which he finished on 182 marks riding his privately entered 490cc Norton and took home a first class award. He also competed in an ISDT in which he won a gold medal.

Known as the ‘voice of Formula 1’, Walker was a well respected character in the Grand Prix movement and was well-known amongst drivers, constructors and the Formula 1 management.

He also commentated on many scrambles events in the 1960s for the BBC Grandstand Winter Scrambles series.

Although he was known world-wide for being a motorsport commentator, his main employment was in advertising.

Photo Credit: Matthew Spencer, 2009

Peter Fletcher 1937-2021

1962 SSDT – Peter Fletcher (Royal Enfield 249cc) on ‘Foyers’ – Photo: Norman Hawkins, Abergavenny

Peter Fletcher, the former Royal Enfield works trials rider has passed away aged 83 years at his home at Nidd, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire on Friday, 22nd January 2021.

Fletcher who was nicknamed ‘Fearless Fred’ was a motor dealer from Leeds, son of road racer Frank Fletcher from whom he inherited the business.

Peter Fletcher (Left) with Arthur Lampkin and Tom U. Ellis from Ripon at the Scottish Six Days weigh-in at Gorgie Market, Edinburgh – Photo: David Wood Archive, Bradford

Peter did his National Service along with BSA factory star, Arthur Lampkin and they remained friends for life.

Fletcher formed OSSA Moto UK in 1970 with partner Alan Kimber to import the OSSA trials and enduro machines from Barcelona, Spain when Mick Andrews was their official factory rider. Fletcher formed the OSSA Moto UK trials team comprising of Andrews, Dave Thorpe and Bill Wilkinson.

No details as to Peter’s funeral arrangements were available at this time.

Five giants of off-road motorcycle sport: Left to right – Jeff Smith OBE; Peter Fletcher; Gordon Jackson; Alan ‘Sid’ Lampkin & Arthur ‘Ping’ Lampkin – Photo courtesy of Colin Bullock/CJB Photographic

Manuel Soler 1957-2021

It is with great sadness that we have to report the sudden passing of former Spanish National Trials Champion, Manuel Soler in the early morning of Wednesday 20th January 2021, aged 63 years.

Born on 9th March 1957, Manuel was the grand-nephew of Bultaco founder, F.X. Bulto, he was the son of Juan Soler Bulto, the nephew of Senor Bulto and played a huge part in the development of the Sherpa trials models.

Copyright Claudio Pictures – Here we have Vesty and trial friends: Manuel Soler on the far left, Dave Thorpe, Chesterfield, England & Joan Pere Santuré from Andorra. Photographed in 2013 at Highland Classic 2 day Trial (Bultaco Edition), Alvie Estate, Aviemore, Scotland.

Manuel started trials riding at an early age on a specially built small scale Bultaco and was nicknamed ‘El Monstruito’ (the Little Monster) by his close friends and family. He became the first Spaniard to win an FIM World Championship round at Espoo, near Helsinki, Finland on a 325cc Bultaco in August 1979. He was Spanish National Champion four times in succession, from 1974 to 1977, taking over the coveted title from his cousin, Ignacio Bulto.

1975 – Bultaco Sherpa T model 159 ‘Manuel Soler’ – a factory photograph showing the ignition side – image courtesy of The John Hulme Catalogue Archive/Trial Magazine UK

The 1975 Sherpa model 159 is refered to in Spain as the ‘Manuel Soler’ model as much of the bikes development was down to Soler’s input when riding the prototype version in national and then world trials.

Soler was responsible in testing and writing reports for the factory technicians to make improvements and once said that the Bultaco factory at San Adria De Besos was in effect the family garage.

Manuel Soler told Trials Guru in 2013 when on a visit to Scotland: “The Bultaco factory was our garage, all our motorcycles were stored and worked on there by the firm’s mechanics. Even my little bike was there for a long time. When the factory closed, all my bikes and those of my cousin Ignacio were sold by the liquidators. I was a development rider and every day I tested Sherpas, made a written report and made suggestions on how to improve them, it was my job”.

Manuel Soler on a 325cc Bultaco Sherpa at the Highland Classic 2 Day Trial in 2013 in Scotland – Photo copyright: Donald Young, Stonehaven.

With the demise of the Bultaco company in 1980, Soler moved camps to ride for the rival Montesa manufacturer and latterly the Merlin, under the control of Ignacio Bulto.

Bultaco publicity from 1975 showing Manuel Soler and advertising that Bultaco Motorcycles and Soler were Spanish Trials Champions.

More on Manuel Soler in an interview in 2019 by Todotrial

HERE

Frank Hildrick dies

Frank Hildrick, from Helmsley, North Yorkshire, died at York Hospital, on Sunday, 8th November, aged 75.

On leaving school, Frank fully intended going into journalism but, for whatever reason, he got side-tracked and worked as a travelling mechanic for the Forestry before beginning his own garage/taxi business. He then worked at Perry Slingsby Systems building underwater equipment until retirement.

His passion for motorcycles, especially off-road, lasted his entire life, competing first at grass track on a C15, then a full blooded 500cc J.A.P. Speedway and sand racing followed with a fair amount of success before joining the trials scene.

Pete Clements, a close friend relates a tale which describes Frank`s appetite for riding. Frank and his wife Sally had gone to watch Pete ride his first trial and on his last lap, Pete went a right purler, his ankle swelling up like a football. Pete, thinking Frank was going to help him, couldn`t believe it when he pulled the wellies on and finished the lap. They got a second-class award.

A marvellous bike builder, he fettled a little Minarrelli road race/sprinter, competing at the Isle of Man Ramsey Sprint not that long ago. Later in life Frank slipped off and broke a hip at Scarborough. Before anyone reached him he`d ridden side saddle back to the pits. Typical Frank, hard as nails.

Frank Hildrick on teh right in black leathers with his Minarelli racer

I`m sure motorbikes were invented for the likes of Frank Hildrick. Always riding, helping, fettling, plotting sections, or supporting son Richard, he just loved being involved. Clerk of Course for the famous Colonial in the seventies and eighties, he then became major course plotter for the Scarborough Sporting Weekend almost thirty years ago. He and his loyal helpers made it into a must ride event.

One of the finest pleasures derived from the trials scene is meeting larger than life characters such as Frank Hildrick. The best of company to be with, a great storyteller with the sharpest of wit. A man whose optimism and enthusiasm for the sport rubbed off on many. He will be greatly missed.

Frank was a loving husband to Sally, father to Rachel and Richard and grandad and great grandad to his four grand-children and great granddaughter.

Richard Hildrick riding his father Frank’s home brewed 250 BSA

Farewell to Felipe Koberg

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Costa Rican trials super-enthusiast, Felipe Koberg after a short battle with cancer.

Felipe is the only Costa Rican rider to have completed the course at the Scottish Six Days Trial in 2019 and was known with his fellow countrymen by their taking part in the Sunday parade dressed in Dinosaur suits to promote their Jurassic Three Day Trial in Central America.

Felipe was the driving force in the promotion of the Costa Rica event and he enlisted the help of SSDT Spanish Ambassador, Carlos Casas to help plan the route and section design.

Felipe Koberg on Leanachen during the Scottish Six Days Trial – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

Trials Guru’s John Moffat said: “Felipe was a true enthusiast of trials, he was so excited about riding the Scottish Six Days Trial and of course the subsequent organisation of his brainchild three day event in his home country. He was always willing to be interviewed live on Nevis Radio during SSDT week and his love of the sport was simply endless. Felipe was such a friendly man, his enthusiasm was truly infectious. He will be sorely missed by all who got to know him at Fort William and in the wider trials world. Felipe was a great family man and I send my sincere condolences to his relatives at this very difficult time.”

(Photos courtesy of Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven)

Words of gratitude from Felipe Koberg’s Mother 07/11/2020:

“Dear friends and friends of my son Felipe Koberg, family, doctors who cared for him, paramedical staff, employees, people who knew and estimated him, people who prayed for him.

With my deepest gratitude, I wish to send each and every one a very special blessing of Love, Faith, Joy, Health and Prosperity, extended to their respective families.

I thank God for giving my son Felipe the gift of meeting them. He was a truly amazing person in the different aspects of his life. I firmly believe that what determined the course of his life was the fact that he received, at the age of 6, our Lord Jesus Christ in his heart, and so also, Christening in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Scriptures tell us, in The New Testament, that in order to appropriate, on a personal level, the work of Christ Jesus, we must have a personal encounter with Him and, right away, receive the fullness of Him Holy Spirit, for it is He who us Power to live a victorious life, ′′ despite what may happen at different times throughout our lives “. This reality greatly facilitated Max, his dad, and me, his mother, his training. And at this point, I wish to mention, with great gratitude, Mr. Otto Silesky’s role as Director of the Institute of Comprehensive Education. A very special greeting to him.I ask the Most High God for his protection continues for each and every one as well as for each member of their respective families And it’s like this, how, trusting that one day you can meet again, I say goodbye to you with a hug full of affection from the depths of my heart.

Ana Luisa Marenco Dominguez

Alan Morewood’s final section

Words: Trials Guru

Photos: Malcolm Carling; Eric Kitchen; Iain Lawrie

It is with sadness that we have to report on the passing of yet another well-known trials rider and sidecar driver, C. Alan Morewood from Sheffield on 24th August 2020 after a long illness.

The name Morewood always seemed to be associated with Ariel and indeed he was one of the very last riders to compete in the Scottish Six Days Trial on an HT500, way back in 1976 when the Selly Oak machines had long become museum pieces and their resurrenction in Pre’65 events was still five years distant. The last recorded ‘finisher’ on an Ariel was Scot, Ernie Page the very same year.

Alan Morewood on his 500cc Ariel in the 1984 Pre’65 Scottish Trial at Kinlochleven – Photo Copyright: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.

Alan’s first SSDT ride was in 1957 on an Ariel and was awarded the famous P.S. Chamberlain Challenge Trophy for best first timer. He was entered under the Ilkeston & District MCC. Alan was also a noteable sidecar driver, sometimes accompanied by his wife, Merle, they had two trials riding sons, Robin and David.

The Morewoods were long-time members of Sheffield and Hallamshire MCC and both Alan and his wife spent many seasons following the FIM World Trials series, their motorhome becoming a fixture in the paddocks across Europe.

Margaret Muirhead dies aged 82

M Muirhead
Margaret Muirhead (centre) pictured here with Tommy Milton Jnr (left) and Edinburgh Southern stalwart, Jock Hurst (right) – Photo courtesy, Peter Bremner

Margaret Muirhead, a stalwart of the Edinburgh Melville MCC, Scottish Six Days Trial official and Scottish International Six Days Trial supporter has died aged 82. Margaret worked for the Bank of Scotland’s Treasury Department in Scotland’s capital, arranging the carnets for the ISDT teams to allow machines to be taken overseas. She also was a support crew member at several ISDT events for the Scottish ACU teams.

She was also Trials Secretary of the Melville MCC for many years as well as being a member of the RAC/ACU Rider Training Scheme held in Edinburgh in the 1960s and 70s.

Charlie Cope dies

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Charlie Cope from Midlothian on his home built Honda – Photo: Jimmy Young, Armadale

Midlothian based trials and racing enthusiast, Charlie Cope from Balerno passed away on Sunday, 5th April after suffering a stroke.

Cope was a well-known face at Scottish trials on both solo and sidecar machines in the 1970s and 1980s. His machines were usually well-modified and purposeful, but never highly polished. He was a member of the Scottish Classic Racing, Edinburgh St. George and Melville motor cycle clubs.

Very much an innovator, Cope also raced a Windrick Imp sidecar outfit with daughter Louise as passenger and raced throughout the late 1980s through to 2012. When a few enthusiasts, including the late Fred Hendry tried to get trials sidecars going in Scotland in the late 1970s, Charlie used a Kawasaki KT250 to power his home-built outfit.

One of his ambitions was to reach the first petrol check at the famous Scott Trial.

Charlie worked at Napier University, Edinburgh as Chief Technician of their Civil Engineering department and he also worked on two-stroke barrels for former Scottish champion road racer, Donnie Mcleod.

Trials Guru’s John Moffat said: “I knew Charlie Cope from when he first appeared on the trials scene and he was very much an unpretentious, grass roots sportsman type of chap who really enjoyed his trials riding. He loved the cameraderie that the sport provided, he was always good-humoured and a true enthusiast of the sport of motorcycling. He served for many years on the SSDT committee and was very much a club supporter. I always enjoyed a good natter with Charlie and latterly we would meet once a year at the annual Scottish Motorcycle Show where he would take a traders stall to sell various parts and accessories to fellow enthusiasts.”

We send our heartfelt sympathies to his widow Marie, son Charles, daughter Louise and son in law Brian Nichol and the extended Cope family.