Eileen Sheridan

Some of you may have read this week of the passing of Eileen Sheridan, former professional rider in the 1940 and 1950s, holder of all 21 place to place records when she retired and still holder of a number of those records today.

What has this got to do with me or the Crawley Wheelers I hear you ask - read on and all will become clear.

After retiring from racing Eileen studied glass engraving and spent 40 years working on commissioned pieces. In the 1980s she engraved the club Ernie Dore trophy, the most valuable of all our trophies.

The Ernie Dore trophy is named for one of the original members of the Crawley Wheelers when they formed in the early 1960 however was with Crawly CC from 1958, before they merged with Southern Wheelers to become the club we are now.

Ernie was Time Trial secretary for many years and a stalwart of the club and local race scene. That said, Ernie was never fast, what was known in those days as a middle-marker, but that didn't prevent him enjoying his racing.

Unfortunately Ernie was knocked off his bike whilst riding home from work one evening in 1980 and killed. A collection was held to purchase a trophy in his memory and club members contributed around £400 to the fund. The club decided to purchase a hand blown glass goblet and the work was carried out by a glass blowers in Birmingham who, incidentally, had recently completed a piece for HRH Duke of Edinburgh. Someone discovered Eileen Sheridan's new career and after seeing the finished piece, 12 inches high and 7.5 inches diameter, she agreed to carry out the engraving. The work is to her own design and carried out using an 'eye bob' and dentist drill, taking her in the region of 6 months to complete, for which it is believed she was paid £100-£150. The engraving contains, amongst other items, an image of Ernie on his bike, the Crawley Town Crest, a road race passing a pub in Barns Green, riders on a mountain pass, fruits and flowers. As one former winner has described, 'it is a unique and beautiful trophy'. And as a bespoke and hand-made, hand-engraved piece, it is utterly irreplaceable and possibly priceless.

A wooden trophy case was made by a small company in Redhill and later, the first winner of the trophy arranged for his engineering company to construct a metal case for further protection.

In keeping with Ernie's love of time trialling and standing as a middle-marker it was agreed that the trophy would be awarded within our open 10 mile promotion. However rather than going to the first placed rider it would go to someone lower down the field.

The only riders eligible for the trophy are those who have never beaten 24 minutes for a 10 mile time trial before, and the trophy is awarded to the fastest rider in that category our open 10 mile time trial.

So there you go, now you know of the link between Eileen Sheridan and the Wheelers, and a little more of the history of our wonderful club.