‘Allan was the father of cycle racing in Guernsey’

GUERNSEY’S cycling community is mourning the Velo Club’s longest-serving stalwart and the ‘father’ of domestic cycle racing.

Allan Renyard passed away last month following a lengthy illness aged 79 but not without attracting great admiration and drawing tributes from numerous key figures in Sarnian cycling, with the current club president going as far as to say there would be no GVC without him.

Their tributes celebrate Renyard’s over 60 years of pouring his heart and soul into cycling and living out an almost lifelong racing career that went far beyond his appearance in Guernsey’s first-ever Commonwealth Games squad.

His first serious pedal strokes came in 1958, squarely 10 years before the GVC’s formation.

In fact, he was one of the organisation’s six founding members and was renowned as the last remaining link between its formation and its predecessor, the Guernsey Cycling Club.

The GCC crashed in 1964 and the island temporarily lost Renyard, who had left for London – but his love of cycling stuck.

After returning to the island and helping revive the sport under a much more stylish name, in 1968, he won the first GVC event and would remain a high-profile member for many years.

Renyard represented Guernsey in their Commonwealths debut at Edinburgh 1970 and looking beyond his racing, he was an enduring stalwart – including many years as secretary initially and later two presidential terms.

He was also a devoted organiser of what was then a hugely popular Easter festival.

Naturally, new GVC president Alex Margison is beyond grateful for Renyard’s services.

‘Really sad news – an absolute stalwart of cycling of Guernsey,’ he said.

‘There simply wouldn’t be a Guernsey Velo Club today if it wasn’t for Allan.’

Margison’s predecessor as president, Mark Smith, was among those taking to Facebook with tributes.

‘His wealth of knowledge and experience were highly respected and he will be sorely missed but remembered with much fondness,’ Smith wrote while also hinting at the GVC’s plans to honour Renyard.

But no current GVC figure has known the late stalwart quite as long as Gary Wallbridge has.

The third most recent club president, Wallbridge’s cycling career goes back donkey’s years and in fact he joined the GVC a month or so after its formation.

‘To me and the 16-year-olds, he was Allan Renyard and he was all about cycling – he was the only one who shaved his legs,’ Wallbridge said.

‘We looked up to him as the most experienced cyclist in Guernsey.’

Until comparatively recently – in November 2015 – Renyard was still seated happily on the GVC committee.

He stepped down from the committee and finally put his bike aside as his health worsened but, overall, no one could match his durability as a cycling stalwart.

‘He was the father of cycle racing in Guernsey and it is so sad he is no longer with us,’ Wallbridge added.

‘There was only one Allan Renyard – there’s never been anyone like him and he just absolutely loved cycling.

‘If anyone in Guernsey cycling deserved an MBE, it was him.’

As for Renyard’s fanaticism for cycling, Wallbridge summed it up concisely by saying, ‘it was his life’.

It is only fitting that Renyard spent much of his life as a non-driver, only getting his licence in his 60s, and only so he could travel more efficiently to race abroad as an age-grouper.

He was so determined to defy his age and break the hour barrier for the 25-mile time-trial, recalls David Harry.

‘He never did it, but it was not for a lack of trying,’ Harry said.

Harry is currently the chairman of the Guernsey Commonwealth Games Association and recalls Renyard having quite the ‘eye-opening’ experience when he competed at the Edinburgh Games nearly 52 years ago.

But having served many years of his own with the GVC and directly succeeded Renyard as president, the current GCGA chief is well-positioned to praise the late stalwart.

‘He was a founding member of the Guernsey Velo Club and he was really instrumental in setting the club up and getting it running in the late 1960s,’ he added.

‘The current club owes a lot to him for his drive and dedication in pushing cycling forward and it is a sad loss.’

Renyard will also be remembered for his ability to talk and talk about cycle racing.

His last major appearance in these sport pages came in September 2018, when he spoke enthusiastically and at great length for a spread celebrating the Velo Club’s 50th anniversary.

He got to witness, and paid hearty tribute to, Guernsey cyclists punching well above their weight on the national and international stage.

‘We’ve had national champions, people doing phenomenal times in time-trials and we’ve got professional members now,’ he told the Guernsey Press in that extensive interview.

The Commonwealth Games held a special place in his own heart and joining the international stars in Edinburgh was the ‘crowning experience’ of his career.

‘There were people like Precious McKenzie – the weightlifter – and David Hemery, people like that, and you were rubbing shoulders with them,’ he said.

‘What really got us was that, the first day we were there, we came out of the village gates to go for a training ride and outside the gates, there were hordes of kids with their autograph books and I’ve never had that before.’

Renyard is gone, but most certainly not forgotten.

Top Stories

More From The Guernsey Press

UK & International News