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Holbeach loses one of its great characters

Ronald Lilley as many people will remember him. (3008009)
Ronald Lilley as many people will remember him. (3008009)

One of Holbeach's best known characters, ex Isle of Man TT racer Ronald 'Rocket' Lilley, has died aged 85.

Some of the bikes Ron rode in the 1950s will appear in tribute at a wake on the day of his funeral on July 27.

His daughter, Sandra, says the bikes are fragile now but they will be brought to the area on low loaders from Grimsby.

Ron lived in Holbeach all of his life and will be known to many through his work as a store manager with the former steel fabrications, cladding and roofing company D A Green at Whaplode.

Following his retirement from Green's, Ron made another circle of friends through his work as a window cleaner.

Ronald 'Rocket' Lilley in his motorcycle racing days. (3008007)
Ronald 'Rocket' Lilley in his motorcycle racing days. (3008007)

In his younger days, Ron was well known in the motorcycle racing circle as an Isle of Man TT racer, racing bikes for Gordon Woodman Ltd of Holbeach.

The racing machines used in later years were ex John Surtees,

Ron's first road race was at Cadwell Park on August Bank Holiday 1954 when he rode a 350cc BSA Goldstar. He qualified in the heat and finished 8th in a final field of 30.

Ron continued to race for four-and-a-half years at the following circuits: Alton Park, Alton Towers, Brands Hatch, Cadwell, Crystal Palace, Castle Coombe, Isle of Man - taking part in the Senior and Junior Manx GP, and Senior and Junior Jubilee TT (1957) - Mallory Park, Oliver’s Mount in Scarborough, Snetterton and Silverstone.

Among his career highlights were sharing the newcomers’ award at the 1956 Manx GP with Bill Sawford and Tom Thorpe. He also received silver replica in the senior race plus bronze replica in the junior race.

Ron won heats in national races at Mallory Park and Castle Coombe.

He qualified for his international licence in 1955.

Ron's last race was at Mallory Park in 1958.

Ron leaves family including five children, Sandra, Gaynor, Paul, Gary and Kevin, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

His funeral service will start at 1pm in All Saints' Church, and be followed by cremation.


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