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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
Trials Guru sends its heartfelt condolences to Munch’s family, his widow Theresa, daughter Jemma and son Ross.
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.
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“
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.
The Premier Trial Website – Recording the History of the Sport 'Since 2014'