Time to salute Norfolk’s Mrs Speedway
- Credit: Tony Hurren
She is “Mrs Speedway” – a woman who has organised annual events to keep the brotherhood and the comradeship together. Derek James pays tribute to Pam Hedge
They come from across this country and abroad. The stars of the speedway world from yesterday and today gathering in the Norfolk countryside.
Over the last quarter of a century the lunches have raised more than £25,000 for the World Speedway Riders’ Association.
Sadly this year the event has been called off because of the pandemic but it is hoped it will take place again next year.
Today I would like to throw the spotlight, not on a rider, but on a woman. Her name is Pam Hedge and she is responsible for running the gatherings for the association which mean so much to people.
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Pamela Mason and Trevor Hedge were married at St Mary’s Church, Hellesdon, in September of 1965 before heading off to Wimbledon later the same day as Trevor was riding that night for the Dons.
Pam, whose dad was a bricklayer, grew up on Dereham Road in Norwich and went to the Gurney School before getting a job at Clark’s shoe factory in the city.
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In those days it wasn’t so much the footballers who were the local heroes but the speedway riders and many of them started out as teenagers on the numerous cycle speedway tracks around Norfolk and Suffolk.
And one of them was young Trevor.
Born at Diss in 1943 he moved with his parents to a smallholding at Scottow and became a skid kid. A top one who took some catching.
Thousands of boys from across Norfolk and Suffolk loved cycle speedway. “We put lighted candles round the edge of the track so we could ride in the dark,” he said.
Trevor got a job at his uncle’s boatyard at Coltishall and then worked as a mechanic for Wroxham Diaries. He and engines went together like bread and butter. His dream was to become a speedway rider at the fabulous Firs in Norwich.
And he did just that.
“Billy Bales was my idol. He could beat anyone on his day. For me to end up riding in the same Norwich team as him years later, as his riding partner in our last season there, was a dream come true,” he said.
In those days, the early 1960s, thousands of people would attend the speedway at the Firs on a Saturday night and then many of them would head into the social club where the young rock ‘n’ roll bands would raise the roof.
It was a great meeting place for boys and girls…and when Trevor saw Pam one night he plucked up the courage to ask if she would like a drink…the answer was yes. A love affair was born.
Before long it was the end of the Firs, the stadium suddenly announced it was closing in 1964. Trevor and another great rider, Olle Nygren, went off to ride for one of the best teams in the country, Wimbledon.
In those days most speedway riders spent hour after hour on the road rather than moving around. Pam and Trevor bought a bungalow at Costessey but were often in London staying with friends such as Tony and Jean Hurren.
“All the riders and their girl-friends and wives got on so well together at Wimbledon,” said Pam. “Four members of the team got married in Trevor’s first year and we all attended each other’s weddings.”
At the Dons Trevor, known as the Hedge-Hopper, proved himself to be one of the best riders in the land making over 350 appearances.
He rode for England on more than 20 occasions, earned 16 caps for Great Britain and won the London Riders’ Championship in 1969 and 1970.
The Hedge-Hopper took some beating.
Now running the successful Trevor Hedge Racing business at Bawburgh, he and Pam with their children Tracy and Gavin – also a former speedway rider – have done so much to help riders and the sport generally in more recent times.
“It was Ove Fundin who suggested that former Norwich riders get together so we thought of holding the lunch for them all. That was about 25 years ago,” said Pam.
And it is Fundin “The Flying Fox” – one of the best riders the world has ever seen – who always makes the journey from his home in Sweden or the South of France - to head back Norwich for the gathering.
“Pam does a wonderful job,” said Ove. “Norwich is my second home. I love the city and I love the people,” added the five-times world champion. “These events are very special.”
Money raised goes to help members of the speedway family in many different ways.
“We have much to thank Pam for,” said Tony Hurren, now of the WSRA, who is the MC at the popular luncheons in Bawburgh Golf Club attended by more than 160 people.
“I would estimate she has raised more than £25,000 for the association and she has been presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for services to speedway,” said Tony. The gatherings are sell-outs with people on a waiting list for tickets.
“I love the lunches and seeing everyone again,” said Pam. “It is such a shame we will not be meeting up this year but…we will be back.”
In the meantime, let’s raise a glass and toast Pam and Trevor Hedge, happy 55th wedding anniversary.
And thank them for all they have done, and are doing, for the world of speedway.