It wasn’t only Ian living out his passions during this time, Su was involved with the sport in almost every other way and through following Ian around the various events could be found marshalling, servicing or spectating and would hold much more senior clerical roles as well. “I was event secretary for what would become the Nicky Grist stages for 13 years from 1980 and would reprise the role in 2008” she tells me, with some pride. There is more as well, time spent as the event secretary on the Acropolis Rally, ten years as editor of the ‘Full o’ Chat’ magazine and goodness knows how many typewriter written letters of correspondence produced, all whilst working as a special needs teacher and whilst Ian built his career as a quantity surveyor.
It’s a vast CV for them both, and with the depth of experiences built up in professional and during their extracurricular activities it is no real surprise that they were well suited to the work that they both do for HERO, when that path presented itself to them. “That happened at Race Retro” says Su, “We walked past the stand and were asked if we had a car, to which we replied ‘no, we go marshalling.’” Before they could say regularity, they were helping out on the 2009 Summer Trial, and whilst they had gained some experience with the historic sector of the sport before, thanks to their daughters involvement with the Tour of Cheshire (a chip off the proverbial!). This was followed by the first Throckmorton Challenge in 2010, an event that will be remembered through gritted teeth by those on the organising team, but you’ll have to ask them about the finer details of that! It did offer them both the opportunity to draw on their years of experience though to get the event through a bit of a sticky wicket, and demonstrate to all involved what a valuable asset they both are.
From here on in the story with HERO gathers pace, and retirement for both allowed them to be more and more involved in something that they both love. “We really enjoy the people” they both tell me, and have been able to visit places they had only ever dreamed of, including being at the hands of the 48-hour car during last years New Zealand Classic, which was a very different experience than that of manning controls. “We loved it” says Ian, “we met so many people and learned so much about New Zealand that we otherwise wouldn’t have done.”
The HERO chapter is of course one we are all familiar with though, for all of us reading this we might imagine that neither is ever not clad in the orange livery of the motorsport marshal, so what else do they like to fill their time with? There is a big clue that I can see on the shelves behind them during our Zoom call, a row of ordinance survey maps and sure enough walking is a pursuit that they both love. “We also have a Porsche Boxster” says Su, “It was either that or a classic car and we chose that.” So, any chance of a return to competition, perhaps even together? “No chance” says Ian, “we would argue too much!”. This comment is of course to be taken in much jest, and is illustrated on more than one occasion as we chat as faux disagreements about the dates of this and that perpetuate our conversation. It’s a true sign of a successful partnership, who have taken the opportunities that life has provided with much enthusiasm and, with their positive attitude no doubt engineered their own opportunities along the way.
There is simply far too much to commit to type on these pages, as evidenced by the 20-page motorsport CV that Ian sent me to help with my research for this piece, save it for the book Ian! I would heartily recommend seeking out the company of both of them next time you have the opportunity on an event though, it will be half an hour well spent. That is if you can find them outside of their natural habitat, out on the road.