Category Archives: Obituaries

Jim McColm – SSDT Passes away

Jim McColm (on the right) over-sees the start with rider Roy Kerr at the 1981 SSDT, watched by Brian Higgins and observer/official, Colin Cass.

James ‘Jim’ McColm 1929 – 2017

It is with great sadness that Trials Guru reports the passing of a stalwart of the Scottish Six Days Trial, the former SSDT Secretary, James ‘Jim’ McColm, following a short illness, on Monday 13th November, 2017 aged 87 years.

Jim was well-known to all riders and officials who took part in the SSDT from 1970 to 1995 as the ‘face of the Scottish’, being the man who was ultimately responsible for all the administration duties of the annual event.

McColm’s full-time ‘day job’ was with the Forth Bridge Joint Board at South Queensferry as their Accountant/Office Manager. This organisation was responsible for the administration and management of the Forth Road Bridge. He used his administrative skills to best effect both in his paid employment and with the SSDT committee.

Jim started with the Edinburgh & District Motor Club Limited (the E&D) as their Club Steward at their headquarters at 28 Nelson Street, Edinburgh in 1961. In 1963, Jim became the Secretary’s Assistant to Tommy Melville, who was the then SSDT Secretary until 1969. McColm was to ‘learn his craft’ from Melville over a period of six years.

McColm took over as SSDT Secretary from Melville in 1970 and oversaw many changes to the SSDT in his twenty-five years in this position, including the move away from paths to open moorland, which was pioneered by Clerk of Course, Jimmy Mulvie.

Jim McColm was presented in 1984 with the annual ‘Jim Clark Memorial Award’ by the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers, in recognition of his services to motor sport, an award which gave him great pleasure.

In 1992 the Edinburgh & District MC was to organize a round of the FIM World Trials Championships at Glen Nevis, again McColm would be in charge of the event administration with AC-U man, Dave Willoughby as the overall clerk of course being FIM accredited. Jim travelled to the German round the previous year, to see how they administered a WTC event.

In 1995, Jim published his book, “Six Days in May” which is a compilation of anecdotes and information covering the years 1970 to 1994 and included all the SSDT results for those years. It was never re-published and is a collectors item for enthusiasts of this most famous of trials.

Jim was never a competitor himself, but having been led into the job by the experienced Tommy Melville, he enjoyed what he did for the Scottish Six Days immensely. The most Jim would see of a SSDT was usually on the first day when the trial started and finished in Edinburgh, with regular stop-offs at the ‘Edramucky’ section on the slopes of Ben Lawers near, Killin to take in some of the action before heading up to Fort William where he would spend much of his time in the SSDT office. He was out before the first man left the Parc Ferme in Fort William on the Monday morning, then it was back to the then Milton Hotel for breakfast, before spending hours that stretched into the next morning working in the office.

Jim was quoted as saying: “When Tommy Melville learned that I could read and write, he invited me to help him in the SSDT office with the administrative work”. His first job at the SSDT was tallying up the results which Jim described as: “the most boring job in the world.”

When he retired from the position of SSDT Secretary in 1995, Jim handed over the reins to Dundee’s Ally Findlay, but Jim continued to be involved with the Motor Club, by becoming Company Secretary and Treasurer, a position he held until recently.

Jim McColm also continued to be involved with the E&Ds’ other event, the Pre’65 Scottish, and was still a director of the E&D until March 2017.

Trials Guru’s John Moffat paid a personal tribute to Jim McColm:

I first met Jim when I was at first year at secondary school, when my late father, Arnott took me to the hallowed halls of 28 Nelson Street, where he jokingly introduced me to Jim by saying, ‘…can you ensure my son John can have a ride in the SSDT when he becomes of age?’. Jim laughed out aloud and replied ‘I certainly will Arnott!’. He then shook my hand firmly and from that moment on, Jim not only remembered my name, but who I was. As the years went by, we became good friends when I acted as an observer, then rider and eventually when I became SSDT Secretary in 2001, we were colleagues on the committee. After that we were co-directors on the E&D board for a further two years. We have been friends for forty-seven years and therefore I am saddened greatly by Jim’s passing. This is the end of an era.

Only a week before he died, the E&D presented Jim with a glass award, duly inscribed to recognize the work he had done for not only the motor club, but the two events over the years he was involved with them.

Jim leaves a widow Heather, daughter Frances, grandson Kyle, grand-daughter Kara and daughter-in-law Brenda, the widow of Jim’s late son, Kevin. Jim was also a Great Grandfather to Ailsa and Molly.

Jim’s Funeral was conducted by a humanist on Friday, 24th November at 11am at the Lorimer Chapel of Warriston Crematorium, 36 Warriston Road, Edinburgh.

It came as a surpise to many that Jim was brought up in Stevenston, Ayrshire as many had thought he was an Edinburgh born man. He spent time in the Navy and was to be posted overseas when a medical examination discovered an ulser, so that put paid to his time on the ocean wave. He was transferred to Rosyth in Fife and it was here that he met his wife Heather.

Jim was a big fan of James Bond movies and it is believed that he did impressions of the first ‘Bond’, Edinburgh born actor Sean Connery.

A great practical joker in both private life and at work, Jim always tried to see the funny side of things.

Chris Milner dies

Sheffield trials and motocross rider, Chris Milner died today Monday 25th September, 2017 after a long battle with cancer.

Milner was a highly respected competitor and was a Comerfords sponsored Bultaco rider in the 1970s and also competed in motocross on both Bultaco and KTM machinery.

Chris Milner - 177 - 1969 - crop
Chris Milner in his first of many SSDT, seen here on a 250cc Ossa on ‘Achintee’ (Ben Nevis) in 1969.

He was a regular competitor in the SSDT from 1969 when he rode an Ossa Pennine 250 in the annual Highland classic.

Chris’s funeral will take place at Brimington Crematorium on Tuesday, 10th of October 2017 at 10.10am, then afterwards to the Blue Bell at North Wingfield.

Trials Guru send their deepest sympathy to his family at this difficult time.

Allan Johnston 1933-2017


Allan Johnston - red
Allan Johnston 1933-2017

It is with sadness that Trials Guru has to announce the passing of SSDT enthusiast and former competitor, G. Allan Johnston on July 21st, 2017.

Educated at George Heriot’s School, Edinburgh, Allan was a well-known figure in the parc-ferme area of the SSDT in more recent years, being a machine examiner on the team led by Chief Machine Examiner, Archie Plenderleith.

Allan Johnston checking machines in the Parc Ferme at the SSDT – Photo: Heather Mead, Dingwall

Johnston who lived in Longniddry, East Lothian was father to Scottish trials riders, Keith and Paul and rode in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He leaves a widow, Thelma.

Allan Johnston’s eldest son Keith was a former Youth Scottish Trials Champion seen here on a 320 Majesty Yamaha prepared by Allan at Edinburgh St. George, Lauder Trial. – Photo: Jimmy Young

Allan also assisted Team Yamscot in the 1970s and 1980s when the Aberdeen dealers Shirlaws Ltd were promoting Yamaha off-road and racing machinery under the Yamscot moniker. He was a member of the Edinburgh Southern MC and worked as a Telephone Engineer firstly with Post Office Telephones and latterly BT.

Allan Johnston (right) working with SSDT Clerk of Course Jeff Horne in 2013 – Photo Heather Mead, Dingwall

Allan had a passion for anything on two or four wheels and owned a dark blue and black, 1926 Morris ‘Bullnose’ Oxford which was owned previously by a retired Doctor. Unfortunately it was involved in a minor collision with another vehicle and such was his sense of perfectionism, he wouldn’t allow the insurers have it repaired at a garage because: “I would never have been happy with a repair I hadn’t done myself”.

As well as preparing his son’s trials machines and tuning Karts for racing, Allan obtained great pleasure from his work as a volunteer at the East Lothian based ‘Museum of Flight’ at East Fortune where he helped restore Concorde for display and also maintained the models and displays.

Funeral details: Tuesday, 1st August at Seafield Crematorium, Edinburgh at 14.00 hours. Family and friends welcome. Collection fro Cancer Research UK.

Claude Coutard 1928-2017

Claude Coutard 1928 – 2017 – Photo

It is with sadness that we announce the passing of a great enthusiast of the sport, Claude Coutard from France.

CLAUDE COUTARD 1998 Loch Eilde path
1998 Claude Coutard (250 Greeves) on Loch Eild Path – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

He was a well-known rider who competed on Greeves machines in the 1960s. He was father to multiple French Trials Champion, Charles.

CHARLES COUTARD 1998 Loch Eilde Path
Claude Coutard watches his son, Charles Coutard (Greeves) on Loch Eild Path in 1998 – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

French super-enthusiast Oliver Barjon spoke to Trials Guru about Claude’s passing:

I first met Claude Coutard in the seventies, at the world rounds when his was helping his son, Charles. We talked a lot, as Charles was very focused on his riding.
I will never forget Claude’s blue eyes, until his last years.
Claude discovered trials in the nineteen-fifities, in the woods near Paris (St Cucufa), it really was the beginning of trial sport in France. From that time, his life was dedicated to our sport.
Firstly as a rider, he was the vice French champion behind Christian Rayer, and as ‘the’ French promoteur of our sport  for over 50 years, until recently.
I was 30 years and and one week younger than Claude, sometime on the trials we wish each other ‘happy birthday’.
After Greeves, he rode Bultacos and had a shop in Lyon named ‘Coutard Service’.
We will all miss Claude and our hertfelt sympathies go to his widow, Josette, son Charles and all the Coutard family.”


Claude Coutard - O Barjon
Claude Coutard and his beloved Greeves in 1994 at Mons, Belgium – Photo: Oliver Barjon

Claude Coutard - Claudio Pictures
Claude Coutard (Greeves) – Photo: Jean-Claude Commeat (Photo by Claudio)

Brian Valder – Western Stalwart

Brian Valder (left) receives his ACU medal of honour in 2016
Brian Valder at Tower Hill Paley Cup Trial in 1961

Words: Ben Falconer, with Credit to: ACU Western Centre

Heartfelt tributes have been paid to a great servant of motorcycle sport who put in more than he got out over seven decades.

Brian Valder will be deeply missed in Gloucestershire, where he threw himself in to volunteering at hundreds of events, after moving to Quedgeley in 2004. Prior to that he had been involved in motorcycle sport in the High Wycombe area since the 1950s.

He died aged 83 on May 23, 2017 and on Sunday Cheltenham Home Guard MCC held a minute’s silence and applause before their Hazleton trial, and Zona 1 MCC posted up a photo of Brian at section one of their evening trial on Wednesday, May 24.

He also marshalled at 62 Kingsway Parkruns, where his daughter Amanda and grandson Declan run.

A very capable rider, he placed fourth and fifth in the Scottish Six Days Trial in 1955 and 1956 and rode a Greeves in scrambles, Brian was a key organiser too and in January of this year was presented with the Auto Cycle Union, the sport’s governing body, Medal of Honour for his lifetime of service to the sport.

Brian Valder riding a scramble on his Greeves

He started competing in the 1950s on a DOT motorcycle. He progressed to a Greeves, which became his preference and occasionally borrowed an Ariel which he enjoyed riding. Known as ‘The Manager’ by his club, Wycombe District Motorcycle Club, he organised their team in the South Midland Inter Club Trial which they won. He once finished the Scottish Six Days on the Saturday and headed home to ride in a major trial on the Sunday.

Such was his enthusiasm that when he stopped riding in the 70’s he became a steward in the ACU South Midland for trials and motocross. He later took on several roles, co-ordinating the centre stewards for twelve years, he was course recorder, and along with his wife Bridie, senior sound meter operator for the centre. Otherwise almost every week they could be found organising the paddock at local and national motocross events held in the ACU South Midland centre.

Brian Valder (Greeves) in the 1961 Manx Two Day Trial.

For many years, Brian was a respected member of the South Midland Competition Committee, and earned a vice presidency there. Brian was a member of the ACU panel of adjudicators for the sport for many years.

When he moved to Gloucester in 2004 he immediately became involved with ACU Western activities. He became a delegate for the Gloucester and Cotswold Motor Club, also a steward once again for his new centre and an observer at trials most weekends.

He was so much in demand that on one occasion he conducted a ballot to choose between two clubs who had asked for his services as an observer. He was awarded the Dick Wyatt trophy, an award given only for exceptional hard work for ACU Western events. He was also made a vice-president of the centre.


ACU Western chairman Tony Noel commented: “It is difficult to imagine someone who has consistently put so many years into ACU sport in different parts of the country, helping to ensure that our sport takes place”.

ACU Western vice chairman Tom Welch said: “He was a true gentleman, respected by all who knew him. Thoughtful, caring, willing, he never grumbled, was considerate, inspirational to the youth riders, he has left a legacy of fairness and abiding by the rules.

His life was extremely well spent. He will be sadly missed, however we have some very fond memories that will be everlasting.”

The funeral will be held on Friday, June 9 at 12.30pm at Gloucester Crematorium. Family flowers only with donations in lieu for the ACU Benevolent Fund or The British Heart Foundation c/o Beechwood Funeral Services Ltd, 7a Highfield Place, Gloucester GL4 4PB.

Mike Rapley wrote for Trials Guru about Brian Valder:

I was sorry to learn of the passing of Brian Valder recently. When I was a kid, I lived in Slough and observed at many South Midland Centre trials with my dad at Wycombe Club events where Brian was a stalwart of the organisation. Indeed, Wycombe organised many great trials using favourite venues that I knew well called Common Hill Wood and Great Wood, places of which I have fond memories.

He rode a Greeves in those days and regularly rode in all SM events as well as setting out his own club’s trials, and as a kid he was very much one of my local favourites as I took photos of riders in those days and tried to sell them for 2/6d

When I moved to the South West aged 19, I lost contact with the Wycombe Club and Brian and it wasn’t until the winter of 2015 that I took a phone call at home one evening with Brian on the line saying that he had heard that I intended to ride in a Western Centre trial that coming weekend.

I did ride that trial, having heard that it was a good event and Brian was there observing. We had a good long chat about his trials that I had observed nearly 50 years earlier, with the roles reversed, me riding and him observing on that December day 2015. It was very good to meet him again and now the sport has lost a great ambassador, who served the South Midland and Western Centres with enthusiasm.

Kenny Fleming Dies

Group 1970
1970, Kenny Fleming, second from left in the year he won his second Scottish Trials title. On the far left is Allie Beag Cameron, second right Rodger Mount and on right, Alastair Macgillivray

Former Scottish Trials Champion, Kenneth McLean (Kenny) Fleming has died after a short illness on Thursday 25th May, 2017 aged 81.

Member of both Perth & District and Lochaber motorcycle clubs, the son of a farmer from Dunblane in Perthshire, Fleming was a serious, talented competitor who won the Scottish title twice, in 1965 and again in 1970. He took part in two International Six Days Trials first on an ex-Ken Heanes 500cc Triumph (Garmish-Partenkirchen, 1969) and an East German built 250cc MZ (El Escorial, Madrid, 1970). He was also a keen wrestler and excelled at this sport also.

The farm which his father owned was on reputedly poor arable ground, however the Fleming family opened the land out to create a sand and gravel quarry and benefitted financially from this change of use. The quarry business was run jointly over the years with his brother, the remainder ground which Kenny eventually owned was sold off to CALA Homes for development.

A batchelor all his life, Kenny Fleming was a quite introverted individual but was a highly respected rider in his time. He was fiercely competitive and trained hard for his personal fitness and practiced regularly to maintain his ‘bike-fitness’.

Having ceased competing in trials around 1973, Fleming appeared at a Perth trial at Blair Atholl in 1977 as an ‘unknown’ entering as a ‘novice’ on a TL125 Honda which he had borrowed. He almost won the event but sharp-eyed T. Arnott Moffat of the SACU who was stewarding that day, spotted the falsified entry and had Fleming re-classified as a ‘non-expert’ as a rider can never revert to being a novice having progressed to expert and indeed Scottish Champion!

His private cremation will be on Monday, 5th June with a memorial service open to friends at Westlands Hotel, Doune Road, Dunblane at 11.00am.

My beautiful picture
1965 & 1970 Scottish Trials Champion, Kenny Fleming from Dunblane seen here at the 1966 White Heather on his 250 Bultaco Sherpa (model 10), bought from Comerfords, Thames Ditton – Photo: Grant Family Collection


David Emmott – a tribute

Dave Emmott
David Emmott on his Triumph twin during the 2012 Pre’65 Scottish Trial on the section ‘Coalasnacoan’

Barry Pickard writes for Trials Guru:

It is with deep regret that we inform you of the passing of our good friend, long time member and treasurer, David Emmott.

He died at his home during Sunday morning, the 2nd April. He was 60 years of age.

Our sincere condolences go to his sons George and Tom and to those closest to him.

As David had organised the annual dinner for many years it will go ahead as planned at the Rendezvous Hotel, Skipton this coming Saturday as a tribute to him.

He will be remembered by all in the Yorkshire Classic Motorcycle Club and beyond.


Trials world shocked by death of ‘Munch’

Munch - Dave Austin
Friend, Dave Austin (left) with Mick Gallagher ‘Munch’ taken recently.

With respect, a short tribute to Michael Thomas ‘Munch’ Gallacher

1959 – 2016

The trials world was stunned by the news that Mick ‘Munch’ Gallagher had died suddenly on Wednesday, 16th March, aged 56. It is believed that he was playing a game of football and took unwell. Paramedics were called but were unable to revive him.

Known as ‘Mick’, ‘Micky’ or ‘Munch’ to his many friends and customers, he built up a business called M-Sport in Stevenage, Hertfordshire specialising in Montesa 4RT preparation and repairs.

Mick had been a Montesa dealer at the time of the model’s initial importation to the UK in 2005 and had carefully researched how these advanced and technical machines were built and rapidly amassed a great deal of knowledge on the brand.

Munch became the go-to man when riders encountered a problem with a 4RT. After the closure of the original Montesa UK importer in 2009 and for a period of time the non availability of machines, Mick became an independent dealer/repairer of the 4RT, but also had agencies with other brands, being a trials only retailer.

Gallagher was a regular official observer at the annual Scottish Six Days Trial and was known as a fair, but firm observer who understood the rules of the event and marked riders on what he saw, irrespective of their ability or stature. He wore his SSDT observer number-one bib with pride and was usually in the teams consisting of friends, Fred Savage, Mark Maynell and the Austin brothers, Dave and Clive.

Mick regularly was a ‘back-marker’ at the Pre’65 Scottish, ensuring that sections were closed on time and any stragglers accounted for.

Munch also had a long association with the famous Scott Trial in Swaledale, North Yorkshire, helping the event on numerous occasions as an official. He also enjoyed his outings with friend Fred Savage up to Mid Wales and Shropshire for trials events.

The funeral arrangements will be a celebration of Mick’s life with a humanist service at Harwood Park Crematorium at Stevenage, Hertfordshire on Tuesday 12th April at 2.45 pm, thereafter friends and family will gather at the Orange Tree, Baldock. Family flowers only with donations to the local air ambulance service.


Munch 4RT at FtW
Munch’s personal Montesa 4RT pictured at Fort William, we are posting this as the rider-less machine at rest, as our tribute to Mick Gallagher.
John Moffat: “Munch was a very good friend who I trusted 100% not only when it came to doing work on my bikes, but in everything he undertook. He will be a great loss to his customers of MSport. I got to know Mick in 2000 at the SSDT and he was a very keen supporter of trials sport in general. I know we call this website Trials Guru, but Munch was truly the ‘4RT Guru’. Mick was full of fun and always up for a good laugh when the opportunity arose. He and I had many phone conversations over the years. Munch was a decent, knowledgeable and warm human being who will be sorely missed by all who knew him”.


Straw - James Maynell
‘Munch’ in his having a laugh mode at the 2013 SSDT – Photo: James Maynell

Trials Guru sends its heartfelt condolences to Munch’s family, his widow Theresa, daughter Jemma and son Ross.


Mick Gallagher’s MSport business trading logo



David S. Tye – BSA works rider passes

David Seymour Tye died on 2nd July 2015 at Oban. Originally from Derbyshire, David Tye was a natural off-road rider who excelled in scrambles and trials and rode in the ISDT. Best known for riding BSA Gold Stars, he also rode the works opposed twin cylinder trials Douglas in 1950-1952, before joining the BSA concern to ride their Gold Star machinery. His factory trials Gold Star bore the registration number BSA350.

David Tye on his factory BSA in the 1954 Scott Trial, an event he won in 1953. Photo: Ray Biddle, Birmingham.
David Tye on his factory BSA in the 1954 Scott Trial, an event he won in 1953. Photo: Ray Biddle, Birmingham.

Tye was an outwardly happy individual who had a ‘do-or-die’ attitude and was always up for a challenge. His younger brother Jonathan also a trials rider of note (and a Flt Lt. in the Royal Air Force commanding Vulcan bombers) told Trials Guru some years ago that their mother was an adventurous type of lady who died at a very elderly age and he believes he and his elder brother David, obtained their adventurous lead from her.

Being a commercial diver, David Tye unfortunately contracted the bends (or Decompression Sickness) whilst on a dive in the 1970’s and was confined to a wheelchair as a result.

He was Managing Director of Oban Divers Ltd.

He never let his paralysis get him down and was a great man for encouraging others’ endeavours. This culminated with his son Michael becoming Scottish Trials Champion in 1975 and again in 1977. His daughter Sally married road racer and motorcycle dealer, John Stoddart. Their daughter is Susie Wolff the racing driver.

David Tye was best friends with Peter Hammond of Triumphs but also had a wealth of friends in off-road motorcycle sport, many attended his funeral at Oban on Tuesday, 7th July 2015.

Former AJS factory rider Gordon McLaughlan wrote “David Tye was a true gentleman and motorcycle enthusiast. I rode with David in the 1952 & 1953 Scottish Six Days Trial and met him numerous times at his Oban home with the fellow ‘Gordons’ – Blakeway and Jackson

Mike Holloway

Mike Hollaway'05 Mamore
Mike Holloway on Mamore in the 2005 Pre’65 Scottish. Photo courtesy of Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.
Well known Pre’65 rider, Mike Holloway, elder brother of trials rider Joan Westbrook, has passed away on February 13th 2015 after a short illness.
Mike was a supporter of the ACU Sammy Miller Trials Championships over the years and had ridden in the 2014 series on his rigid AJS. For many years he campaigned a spinger Matchless, always a lover of the heavyweight four-stroke Plumstead singles.
His interment is at St Margaret’s Church, Horsmonden, Kent on the 6th March at 11.30am.
Sincere condolences to Mike’s family.
Mike Hollaway'05 Loch Eilde Burn
Mike Holloway on his Matchless on Loch Eilde Burn in the 2005 Pre’65 Scottish. Photo courtesy of Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.