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VETERAN VESPA CLUB HALL OF FAME
THE VETERAN VESPA CLUB HALL OF FAME
Having a “Hall of Fame” to acknowledge the contribution of an individual in a particular sphere over a long period is far from being an original idea. But it is a good one, so now we have our very own. The idea came up at a recent committee meeting, and it was decided that there would be no set number of awards (some years there may be none at all) and that the recipients did not necessarily have to have served as committee members themselves. “Services to Vespa scootering” is the criteria.
Every member of the Hall of Fame receives a special edition in red and gold of our club badge as per the photograph. Each one has been superbly painted and mounted by Peter Harris. They are also engraved on the back with their own serial number.
Although not a requirement for membership of the Hall of Fame, it just so happens that all three of the initial members are recipients of the “Silver Meritum”. This was the highest award ever handed out by the FIV for services to Vespa scootering.
VVC Hall of Fame Member no 1: Frank Brookes
Frank was an enthusiastic member of Brighton VC in the late fifties. He was also in the Navy, his Vespa travelling with him on deck when away from home! In 1963 he hit upon the idea of having a Vespa version of the London-Brighton “old crocks” run. This duly took place the following year and was such a success that a club – this one – was immediately formed to organise it every year and to generally encourage the preservation and use of old Vespas. Other notable achievements include having been twice a member of the VCB team competing in the European Vespa regulatory championship. Frank has been a serving committee member since the VVC’s inception in 1964, and is currently our President. Without Frank’s foresight you would not be reading this.
VVC Hall of Fame Member no 2: Margaret Farquhar.
Margaret was already a pioneer woman scooterist of five years standing with several continental trips under her belt when she became full-time Assistant General Secretary of the VCB in 1957. During the following four years she travelled the length and breadth of Britain on her Vespa setting up branches. This also included a lengthy tour to establish the Vespa club of Scotland. Since that time Margaret has always been on the VCB and/or VVC committees, has been involved in the organisation of countless events and has a reputation for total honesty. Margaret Farquhar has been a fine ambassador for the club and for Vespa.
VVC Hall of Fame Member no 3: Brian Freehold Dec'd
Brian held a unique place in the history of Vespa scootering in this country. He was not alone in being a continental touring pioneer in the early fifties by taking his Rod Model up the sides of mountains in Switzerland. But surely nobody else has continued doing the same thing year after year for nearly half a century and half a million miles! He was the ultimate roving ambassador and an inspiration for future generations of Vespa travellers.
VVC Hall of Fame Members no 4&5: Brian and Vi Edwards. Known to us all as Spike & Vi
This year the committee have decided to induct Brian and Vi into our Hall of Fame. Since they haven’t been especially active in the club for the past five years or so, some may be unaware of their very considerable contribution in the past. For a period of thirty five years or more Brian and Vi held between them a wide variety of posts in the VVC and VCB – often in both at the same time. Jobs like Membership Secretary, Treasurer, General Secretary, taker of minutes and applicant of permits from the ACU. In other words, all the jobs nobody else wanted to do. If someone was needed to man a rally reception they would do it, if a venue was needed for a committee meeting then their home was always open.
Quite apart from all this, Brian was a member of the famed Thames Valley Display Team in it’s later years, and upon it’s demise purchased one of the display Vespa Clubman scooters from Douglas. This Vespa, along with Vi and Brian - and later their daughters – became a sort of club institution at our rallies for many years. Here they all are at our rally in Nottingham in 1982.
You won’t see Brian and Vi’s names on concours trophies or recorded as having won sporting events or having been the promoters of rallies. Which makes it all the more important that their efforts over such a long period of time are recorded here. Many members enhance our club, but without people such as Brian and Vi Edwards there would be no club to enhance.
VVC Hall of Fame Member no 6 William Drake - known to us all as Bill
Describing someone as an “institution” sounds like a cliché, but that surely is what Bill is to the Vespa World. In his earlier years he was an active sporting scooterist at the Isle of Man and elsewhere, but it is his subsequent incarnation as a dispenser of parts and (unrivalled) knowledge that he is most known for today. He has assisted a couple of generations at least of Vespa enthusiasts in pursuing their hobby.
In a field plagued by poor products –and even poorer sellers – Bill Drake shines out as a beacon of honest endeavour. He is constantly striving to have parts manufactured so that people can keep on the road, and when he does so they are always of a good quality and sold at a reasonable price.
Possibly Bill’s most important quality is that of personal integrity – one not universally shared throughout the scooter world. He always takes his responsibilities as our DVLA Registrar extremely seriously, and to a considerable extent the reputation of this club rests on his shoulders.
Bill Drake will not be remembered for having the shiniest show Vespas, but he will be for assisting hundreds of others to have the same. And that, surely, is the greater virtue.
VVC Hall of Fame Member no 7 Chuck Swonnell- known to us all as Chuckles
If anybody can be considered a scootering institution, then that person must surely be Marshall “Chuck” Swonnell (aka “Chuckles”) who has been a continuous all-weather rider since the late fifties. Chuck cut his scootering teeth on Lambrettas, but upon the demise of the national club in 1972 immediately joined the VCB/VVC, and has enjoyed a parallel career with Vespas ever since. Rallies (including continental ones), AGMs and events of all kinds are never complete without the sight of Chuck on one of his pair of early P200s. Not only does he take great pride in riding everywhere, but also he still does his own maintenance.
The esteem with which Chuck is held within the scootering fraternity can easily be gauged from the constant references to him in the scootering press over the years, and now it’s our turn to let him know just how much we value him. Long may he continue riding.
VVC Hall of Fame Member no 8 Mike Clarke Dec'd.
The club has decided to induct Mike Clark into our hall of fame for 2012. Following the demise of Douglas – and the severe contraction of the dealer network – there was a lengthy period during which getting spare parts or having an engine rebuilt for, or having restoration work carried out on, an old Vespa, was almost impossible. During this period Mike Clark Scooters was the one place where you were pretty much guaranteed to get a result, and if it had not been for Mike’s efforts, many would-be Vespa restorers would not have progressed any further and given up.
Mike is pictured here with his late –and much missed – wife, Pauline. Together they made a fine double act in running their shop, and were also regular attendees at our events. Mike has recently suffered poor health, Sadly Mike passed away shortly after we announced the award, he was made aware but unfortunately died before he received the trophy, awarded to acknowledge his (and Pauline’s) contribution to keeping old Vespas on the road.
VVC Hall of Fame Member. Jet Whittle.
The 2015 award has been given to Jet Whittle. In the fifties Jet was a member of initially Hitchin Vespa club and by the early sixties, Luton Vespa Club. At the time he rode his GS 150 VS1 to many events including Concours. A member of the VVC since 1964. It was Jet who in 1967 proposed that the club be expanded in order to strengthen it and he himself was elected the first Chairman - a position he held until 1975. for a number of years Jet worked as an Area representative for Douglas giving him valuable connections with dealers and meaning that he is one of the last remaining links with Kingswood. it is an honour to have him in our Hall of Fame.
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