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.