|Gwen Crellin - The Famous Lady in
I wonder just how many of you out there who are
reading this have been through this door ?
What makes the TT and MGP so special and unique
is the interest and support that they receive from the most unlikeliest of
Where I live in Sulby, everyone in the village makes a special
effort to marshal or just to watch the racing. People that you don't see from
one year to the next will turn up at the rope to do either one or the other,
and it never fails to amaze me how knowledgeable they are on the sport.
Probably the most well known of all of these
volunteers, is the Islands own Gwen Crellin, MBE.
For 38 years Gwen has
marshalled for the TT and the MGP. Come rain, hail or shine she would always be
in her spot outside of her house at 5 in the morning. She is as much a TT
landmark as Ballaugh Bridge or Govenors Dip. All the riders know her and give a
wave as they exit Ballaugh village and somehow, there always seems to be one or
two of them who manage to mysteriously "break down" around breakfast time, in
the vicinity of Gwens house !
On a cold February afternoon, I dropped
in on Gwen to talk to her about all things motorcycling and was greeted by her
with open arms and a welcome cry of "Where's that lovely man of yours, I
haven't seen him here for years".
I was soon made to feel so at ease by
Gwen, that I felt as if I was in the presence of a trusted friend whom I had
know for years and with whom I could share my confidences.
and warmth of Gwen is overwhelming and her bubbly personality and kindness
immediately shine through. I was invited into her "Den" where everywhere you
look there are racing photos, newspaper cuttings and all forms of memorabilia.
It was impossible to concentrate as your mind wanders into a bygone age.
The fire was stoked up, there were sandwiches and cakes laid out enough
to feed an army. You are instantly aware that Gwen knows exactly what she is
talking about. She knows every rider who ever rode the TT course past and
present and has met them all from Ago to the MGP newcomers.
Gwen is a
lady who thinks of the Riders. A quality quite easily forgotten by a few of the
participants in the sport today. She has a very bubbly and caring personality
and speaks very fondly of all the riders and how she enjoys meeting the
newcomers each and every year, she can recall all of their names and almost
always has a tale to tell about each and every one who crops up in
(Watch it Henley I heard a cracker about you).
Gwen in typical jovial mood, stands
still for a moment, for the camera.
The inscription says it all, and for those who
don't know where it is, then keep your eyes open next time round the
always puts on a huge spread for the newcomers as they are shown around the
circuit in the newcomers bus for their introductory lap, always stopping at
Gwens for their afternoon tea. Their introductory lap would be incomplete
without this ritual.
After the have had their introduction to Gwen and
her famous hospitality, everyone signs her guest book and gives her a kiss on
the cheek before they get back on the bus. The guest book is like a who's who
of motorcycling and is in itself a piece of history that would not be out of
place in the new proposed TT museum.
So many of the riders, past and
present still drop in on Gwen to this day, and who can blame them, as she makes
you feel so welcome, and always insists that you sit down and enjoy the
sandwiches, cream cakes, chocolate biscuits and never ending cups of tea that
she is only to happy to serve up.
You never know just who may be
sitting there with a bacon butty in his hand if you call in, and who knows it
may just be your hero who has called to pay his respects to Gwen.
name is known throughout the riders fraternity, by both old and new, is deeply
respected and always will be for her magnificent contributions over the
Gwens, thoughts and cares for the riders, and what they have to
do to go racing and the care which sometimes they require when things can go
wrong for them are unparalleled. Over the years she has been involved in
numerous charitable organisations all of them dedicated towards providing
voluntarily raised finance, by way of sponsored walks, bingo nights, you name
it, and all in aid of supporting the riders and the Manx Helicopter Fund in
particular, for which she is still the Patron
Gwen has now retired from
Marshalling, something that she has done so enthusiastically over the past 38
years, she would be out every morning, afternoon and evening for the practise
sessions and would know all the riders ticking them off on her clip board as
they went past, she would know exactly who was due, when and which lap they
Without a doubt, the sport could only benefit with more people
Although she has now retired from her Marshalling duties, her
house is always open, to all riders.
She receives visitors from all
over the world who call to see her and to show their appreciation for her
hospitality, dedication and her involvement, with the T.T. and the Manx Grand
Prix, and also just to be able to say to others, that they have actually met
this famous "Lady in White".
Gwen proudly points to her MBE
plaque, so richly deserved. Gwens house is an absolute treasure trove of
mementos and memorabilia.
made my way to the door saying my goodbye's and thank you's to Gwen, she
dragged me back inside and thrust a cuddly toy into my hands, telling me that
this was a gift for my little girl Jenny. (Jenny's name had only been mentioned
once, and that was some 3 hours previous). Gwen I thank you for that wonderful
gesture and my little girl is over the moon with the present. She is writing a
thank you note and I will drop this in, the next time I am
Gwen, it was a
brilliant afternoon, talking over old times and chatting about your exploits
over the years. It is one that will always stay with me, and it was a real
pleasure just being able to be there with you. I thank you so sincerely for
permitting me to talk to you and also for the manner in which you welcomed me
into your home.
We intend to follow up on this introduction to Gwen with some more
facts and figures in the near future, so watch out for it soon.
|Here is a special memento that was
given to Gwen By Ago on one of his visits to her house.
A section of the Italian book "Toursit Trophy -
La Corsa Proibita" by Mario Donnini has a reference to The Lady In