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WSRA LUNCH AT PARADISE WILDLIFE PARK

 

"With tributes coming in for the late Lee Richardson from all around the Speedway World, the World Speedway Riders' Association also paid homage to the Hammers' captain when they held a Minute's Silence before the WSRA Lunch at Paradise Wildlife Park and, like the all the other silences at the tracks, you could have heard a pin drop. Inside the Speedway Museum were floral tributes and cards from Arena Essex and in his pre-lunch speech, our  WSRA President for 2012, Colin Pratt, spoke fondly of Lee's time riding for Colin's team, Coventry Bees and echoed everyone's sadness of those tragic events in Poland just one week earlier. Former Peterborough Panther and WSRA Committee member, Pete Saunders, drew the raffle and It was decided that all proceeds from the raffle that afternoon, which raised £360 would go directly to Lee's family. 

 

Prior to the lunch, which was to honour Colin Pratt's election as President of the WSRA for 2012, we were treated to a flypast of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, a Lancaster bomber and two Spitfires, and I thought, "Gee, I didn't know that Prattie was so important!" 

 

That was not the only surprise for the former England International; Mac McDougal of Paradise Wildllife Park had made a like-size wooden figure of Colin in action (who said Colin was wooden?) complete with Hackney body colour, so now he can put that at the end of his bed so that he sees it in the morning when he first wakens up and remembers his illustrious career as a top rider.

 

It didn't finish there, as our WSRA photographer, Maggie Radcliffe read out tributes to Colin from his compatriots around the world, with contributions from Barry Briggs in California, Ivan Mauger in Australia, Ove Fundin in France, Bobby Andrews,  Secretary of the VSRA in New Zealand and others, this was beginning to look like an episode of "This Is Your Life" and I half expected Eamon Andrews to walk into the Marquee. 

 

After lunch, Colin was taken around the Wildlife Park by owner Peter Sampson where he, Colin, almost finished up as Rocky the Tiger's lunch. Colin had the opportunity to feed the tiger (from outside the caged area, of course) with a juicy piece of meat in his hand, and, when Rocky stretched up to his full height to reach the meat, he must have been 10 feet tall, but fortunately, Prattie escaped with all his fingers intact. "We haven't lost anyone yet," said Pete Sampson, then added,...... "but you came pretty close!"

 

With over 60 guests including many ex riders enjoying the day, the Speedway Museum was kept very busy. Former Peterborough Panther,Richard Greer had brought along the Ice Racing Jawa which had been ridden by the late, Andy Ross to be added to the Ice Speedway display. Exiled Scotsman, Andy, at the time a top Grasstracker had been the first, and probably the best, British rider ever to race on the ice so it is fitting that his machine now has pride of place in the Museum.

 

Former double World Champion, Freddie Williams, a great supporter of our WSRA events, came along with wife, Pat and it was good to see "Simmo", Malcolm Simmons looking so well after his illness and being looked after by his wife, June. Simmo and I spent some time reminiscing about our escapades in Australia with the British Lions back in the '70’s, so we had plenty to talk about!

 

Former President, Reg & Eileen Fearman, now back in the UK after living near Ove Fundin in the South of France, were braving the cooler  British weather whilst our WSRA Secretary, Vic White was presented with a Paradise Wildlife Park Teddy Bear to mark his 80th birthday the following day. He now qualifies for free membership of the Association!

 

Trevor & Pam Hedge came down from Norfolk and brought their grandson, a junior grasstracker who had won all six races the previous weekend and was super keen to see the Museum and the animals in the Park and Troy Pratt was there to give his dad moral support and cringe at the photos of himself in the photo display as a baby being bottle fed by Colin!.

 

Terry Stone was also enjoying the Lunch and entertaining the diners, but unfortunately,  did not have any pre-war Rudge or Douglas machines to fire up. The aroma Castrol 'R' would have gone very well with the aroma coming from the buffet.

 

And so another World Speedway Riders’ Association lunch went by with  everyone enjoying meeting old friends and visiting the animals in the Wildlife Park, and checking out the new displays in the Speedway Museum, but Lee Richardson's wife, Emma  and their two boys were never far from our thoughts.

Bert Harkins ."

Paradise Lunch ~ Report
by Bert Harkins

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