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Roy Welham - Obituary - 22.06.2020

Roy was born Geoffrey Roy Welham, in Acton, on 23rd January 1927.

His love of the ice spanned 8 full decades and covered speed skating with a later involvement in figures, free skating and synchro.

From an early age Roy spent his leisure time at Richmond Ice Rink and, at 15, he joined the Aldwych Speed Club and so began a great competitive career in speed skating. Roy was a member of the Aldwych Relay Team, which won the British 3-mile Relay Championship 12 years in a row, but it was as an individual that he made his greatest achievements.

In 1948, Roy won his first British Championship when he won the Hewett Challenge Cup, for the 1-mile Championship, at Durham. This success was followed, at Bournemouth, by the British ½ Mile Championship in 1952. Roy again won the British 1 Mile Championship, at Nottingham, in 1954 and was also ¼ Mile Champion twice, breaking British records along the way.

Roy did not confine himself to indoor racing. He also, when weather allowed, raced on the Frozen London Reservoirs and Lidos and the Fens, home of British outdoor racing and a very different technique.

In December 1950 Roy won the Duddleston Cup, on Bury Fen and in 1954 won the magnificent Benetfink Cup, for The London Amateur Speed Championship (outdoor), on Ruislip Lido.

However, the most prestigious outdoor trophy, indeed the most prestigious trophy in British skating, of any discipline, The Kings Cup, a gold trophy presented by King Edward VII, a great fan of fen races, was normally the preserve of the expert fen racers but Roy was runner up in 1952, 1954 and 1956. This was an enormous achievement for a “rink man”.

Another of Roy’s great moments came on 6th February 1954 when he broke the British record over a measured mile on a continental course, at Ruislip Lido.

Nor did Roy allow personal matters to interfere with racing. He had met his wife Betty, at Richmond Ice Rink and after their wedding ceremony and reception Roy and Betty travelled to Richmond where Roy competed but the couple were rewarded with an ovation from their friends and the supporters.

Roy also served on the NSA Speed Skating Technical Committee and after his retirement from competitive skater became an NSA Official starter and acted as referee at short track races right into the 1980’s. At the same time, he was an active committee member of The Aldwych Speed Club for many years.

Roy spent his working life with the GPO, later to become BT. He was part of the Post Office Tower Telecoms Team and later ran the training school before running the telecommunications team at Heathrow Airport, where he retired as Executive Engineer in 1987.

Although Roy was a very busy man, he still found time for other hobbies. He enjoyed gardening and body boarding, in Cornwall, and both he and Betty were keen cyclists, but he kept fit with golf.

He liked to be involved and gave so much of his time willingly to a number of other committees. He served on his Golf Club Committee, was co-ordinator of his local Neighbourhood Watch and was also involved with Ascot Residents Association. The outings he arranged for them often included an ice rink visit!

Roy could not keep away from the ice and when his granddaughter started skating at Bracknell, aged 5, it was Roy and Betty who willingly drove her to lessons, practise and competitions.

Both Roy and Betty soon became involved with the Bracknell Ice Skating Club and helped with the annual Christmas Show and ran the registration desk at the annual Open Competitions. Roy was also called upon as a music steward and was elected onto the committee. He became Vice Chairman and then Chairman, a post he held for 7 years, where he committed himself to provide the best for the members and support the Synchro Team. As always Roy was very dedicated to the members of Bracknell Ice Skating Club.

Unfortunately, Betty became unwell and Roy cared for her until her death.

Roy still called in at the ice rink regularly for a cup of coffee and a chat with the manager and his connection with the ice remained until his death as he was Honorary Life Vice President of the Aldwych Speed Club.

Roy died unexpectedly on 16th May 2020 and his funeral on 8th June, because of current rules, could only be attended by close family.

Roy is survived by his daughter Julie, His Granddaughter, Caroline, their husbands and his Great Grandson.

A very remarkable man, who packed so much into his life and had a smile for everyone, will be missed by all who knew him.

Elaine Hooper

British Ice Skating Historian

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