There will be many, many well deserved plaudits and articles written about Jon’s enormous contribution to British Speedway but, in my opinion, his finest hour(s) came while he was at Lakeside in the aftermath of Lee Richardson’s tragic passing in May 2012.
Even if Jon hadn’t achieved anything else in his long career, the promotion of this meeting alone would be contribution enough.
Jon’s grief was understandable and palpable but he quickly concluded that, in Lee’s honour, the Hammers next scheduled meeting versus Swindon would, indeed must, go ahead.
In the intervening 5 days, Jon demonstrated enormous leadership, courage and empathy.
He delegated certain responsibilities but what happened on that Friday was almost exclusively a result of Jon’s planning and foresight.
In his programme notes for the meeting, Jon wrote that he had concluded that ”all at the club – riders, mechanics, management, backroom staff and most of all, you, the fans would want to be together to share our grief and remember together and to pay that respect in two or three weeks’ time would not have been right.”
As he often was, Jon made the right decision and I’ve not heard a single word of dissent or disagreement to the club’s response since that day.
Before the meeting, Jon led the tributes to Lee, giving a simply magnificent, emotional speech to the huge crowd at the Raceway. Alun Rossiter, his rival team manager, was quoted after the meeting as saying “…the words he said were absolutely spot on”
Jon’s passing is another tragic reminder of the fragility of life and I’m certain that he’d want us to support each other in the same way he helped us through those dark days nearly 9 years ago.