09/11/06 - Bruce Forrester

THE world of speedway said goodbye to an inspirational talent last week with the death of former rider Bruce Forrester of Frisby.

Aged just 66, Bruce suffered with Alzheimer's Disease for more than 10 years – the legacy, suggests medical opinion, of a number of knocks to the head.

But loving wife of 42 years, Linda, recalls him insisting he wouldn't have missed a day of speedway racing. She remembers him saying: "I've had a good life, and wouldn't change my racing days."

Bruce was a footballer before he became a speedway rider, having played semi-professionally for Hinckley Athletic (now Hinckley United) since school. His football career was cut short by a knee injury, but he later went on to coach Mowbray Rangers under 10s and set up an under nines team.

It was while looking for a sport that would give him an adrenalin rush that he bought a grass-track bike and rode on the grass for a couple of years where he met speedway riders.

After learning speedway at Kings Lynn on practice days, Bruce appeared in second halves at Leicester in 1968 and 1969.

He was 29 when he started speedway and Teesside was his first club. He went on to become the club's number one and an inspirational captain. He also opened a motorcycle shop in Leicester.

Linda went to all Bruce's race meets – except one when she was unwell.

Bruce ended his speedway career in 1975 – a move which saddened his peers because a year earlier he was said to be at his peak with a string of international appearances for Young England, even being made captain.

It was then that the couple started a family – son Duncan is a firefighter and daughter Jill is a keen rugby player.

Linda said: "It seems I was destined to endure sleepless nights worrying about my family."

After hanging up his leathers, a friend introduced Bruce to a ski lake in Leicester and he quickly became hooked, embarking on a 21-year love of the sport which saw him excel at jumping and all round skiing, winning many trophies.

But as well as sport, Bruce had a passion for singing and was a member of The Heart of England Chorus of the Leicester Barbershop Harmony Club, alongside many barber shop singers from Melton.

Linda added: "A lot ofpeople will know Bruce, he was involved in many, many things. He was a lovely man and a wonderful husband and father."

Bruce's funeral takes place at St Thomas' Church, Frisby, on November 16 at 10.45am.

tara.rippin@meltontoday.co.uk