Jim Deeley 1930 - 2020

Jim Deeley 1930 - 2020

Bob Damper shares his eulogy for Jim Deeley, who was a member of Southampton CTC

For those of you who don’t know me, I am Bob Damper and I first met Jim in the mid-1980’s when he started to ride with what was then the Southampton District Association of the Cyclists’ Touring Club, now Southampton CTC. It’s an honour and a privilege to be asked by the family to say a few words in Jim’s memory, and I will try my best to do him justice.

From the beginning, Jim obviously liked us, as we did him, because he very quickly became one of our most regular and loyal riders. Indeed, he was destined to become probably the most regular and loyal member we have ever had. After his family, cycling was surely the next most important aspect of his life. Happily, family and cycling were not at all at odds for Jim, as he was often accompanied by one or more of Joyce, Ruth and son-in-law Frankie on our rides, and latterly by grand-daughter Rachel.

It became apparent very quickly that Jim was not one to leave things to other people (understatement!), and in a short time, he had taken over as Secretary (in October 1987). He proved himself to be a most enthusiastic and efficient Secretary, a tireless worker and someone who could always be relied on to pitch in and help with anything - absolutely anything - that needed doing. Concerns that he might overstretch himself turned out to be groundless, as he devoured mountains of work in the spirit of keeping our rides and social events running smoothly, and came back for more. We could not have had a more capable and committed Secretary and we loved him for it.

Jim served as Secretary for a remarkable 17 of the next 20 years. When he took a rest from the post, we could not let his outstanding service go unrecognised and he was elected Honorary Life President in 2007, only the second person after the late Chris Freemantle to hold this title. His contributions to cycling were also marked nationally by the well-deserved award of the CTC Certificate of Merit.

Important as these contributions were for the health of our club, and as much as we appreciated Jim for his unflagging administrative work, we should not forget that for him cycling was really about the open road and the good company of fellow cyclists. So let me round off with a “collage” of memories of Jim Deeley, the cyclist.

A very tall man, he was an imposing figure on a bike; he was never deterred by poor weather and would habitually turn up at the start of Sunday rides in the foulest of conditions that had lesser mortals sheltering inside; an exceptionally strong rider who never seemed to need respite and would chat all day long when those around him were gasping for breath; his reputation for organising challenging “no prisoners taken” events; a fine hill-climber, he was always the first one up any significant incline; his signature wardrobe of long socks and lycra shorts, which debuted when spring arrived every year; perhaps my favourite memory.

In the days before GPS, Jim would often organise cycling events that called for participants to follow a route sheet. These were invariably printed out using an ink jet printer. All would be well in dry weather, but any hint of rain would cause the ink to run and the sheet to become unreadable. The result was a multitude of lost cyclists trying to find their way around Jim’s (usually intricate and hilly) course. Many times, I offered to print out route sheets for him on my laser printer, but Jim was unrepentant. I swear he truly believed that coping with a soggy route sheet was all part of the challenge!

Jim was a remarkable man in so many ways. As a cycling companion, he enriched our lives with his wit, kindness and humour. We will miss him and we will remember him with real affection.