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  • Writer's pictureNikki Latham

Big Speedway News On Chesil Radio From The Heart Of Your Live Presentation Team

After some serious consideration, it is sad that we announce the end of our track side live broadcasts here on Chesil Radio, at the end of this season. We hope to still do the occasional pre-record, but not at the levels that we have in the past. Where possible, we plan to celebrate our speedway time over the winter months, at end of season parties and early next season at locations, where we hope some of you will be able to join us for a celebration of our speedway times.

The cost of living cost increases in hotel rooms, trains, etc has played a huge factor in this decision, and may not be a final goodbye, but in the direction that clubs are going that they are now live streaming or inviting BBC radio in who have presenters with no knowledge of speedway ahead of ourselves, we are being squeezed out. Or people thinking what we do outside of seasons from the studio with the riders and promoters, in our First Bend show or just interviews with the riders in general, that they can do better, I would rather go now while I still have some love for doing this, than be stopped by either the powers that be or clubs themselves. I hasten to add that none of the clubs that we have worked with over the seasons, have been a factor in this, and breaks my heart that this decision has to be made and feel in some way that I may have let them down by this decision.

It has not been an easy decision to make, but with the lack of respect from BSPL in issuing press passes initially and then moving the goal posts to needing one for each club. Then hearing they are limiting each club to just 3 passes, I feel that it's time to hang up my live headphones. There are other factors that have been taken into consideration into this from some team management/promotions and the lack of understanding and respect on what we really wanted to achieve and develop to bring new people to speedway and those who loved to follow those nomadic teams and don't want to switch their loyalties.

We will continue to report on meetings, and hope that those tracks and promoters who have welcomed us over the years will continue to welcome us to those meetings that we do attend and others. I will be still be at the tracks and hope that the riders and promoters who have supported us over the years for those meetings that we do attend continue to make me and Chesil Radio welcome. I have met so many fabulous people over the seasons and look forward to watching the meetings as a fan, without the pressure of broadcasting. I will still hold those riders when they are World Champions though to their interviews.

A factor in this that you may or may not be aware of is that I have a few medical issues. I am now entering borrowed time in the eyes of the medical teams that support me, I may be unable to look up, due to neck and spine issues, without neck support, that will be apparent visually to you shortly. I am also losing my mobility when walking, particularly after meetings and am now taking longer when I get home to recover from my efforts.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank James Tresedern (aka the Travel Sloth) and Martin Peters (aka Conan) for their introduction to speedway through the Weymouth Wildcats and the support and putting up with me, and that support that we have received along the way from Barry Bishop and his team over on the IOW and Si Kellow with his team over at Kent Royal at Iwade. Without these people I would never have seen speedway EVER and grow the love that will remain and not diminish. As special mention to Chris Watts, who we have always championed and is the only rider that we have always sponsored every season and we will continue to do so while funds allow and those other fabulous riders who have made this experience so incredible for me.

I don't think anyone has any idea the heartbreak and the tears I have shed over this decision. But when you are attending a local speedway press and practice event to be excluded from taking team pictures or riders with their bikes, that we need to report their meetings and the fact we were there, and at that same club where we were shooed out of the pits with the public to be told to make way for the "press", when we are the press and qualified as such, that is so hard to do and hurts every time it has happened. And with the rules from the powers that be with each club needing to sign you up as a member of the press to attend their home and away meetings, added onto these latest limitations on press passes each club can get, and team/club contacts which are ignored or blanked, even when asked in person, time has come stop fighting to be recognised as press in the world of speedway, but build on our press reputation elsewhere. I could say so much more on this, but will save that for another time.

I have such fabulous memories that I take away from my time, including my first full live meeting when we announced Frenchy, Martin French as captain of Wildcats and then crashed to be taken off by a stretcher, never to ride again. The moment I stepped into the announcers box at Swindon to be announcer for the second half and the training consisted of turn mike on cuts the music to start the heat and then being asked for my autograph on the way down. The moment my dad died while I was track side, I was broadcasting live my first National meeting as the Speedway Star were writing a story, and with his blessing I had left his bedside to do that, for the magazine never to publish the story to this day, the fans at Plymouth (and Exeter fans!), will always hold a special place in my heart for wrapping me with their love and support on that night and beyond. My first moment on centre green at Birmingham, when we did a presentation to a young fan and we were allowed on to watch a heat, that ended in a crash in front of us as the action restarted, which cancelled the second half that we had gone to commentate on. The rain offs that I travelled all the way to a place and couldn't change hotel and travel for so ended up in a strange city or town in the rain and the Plymouth ones that meant we saw a particular petrol station more than speedway some times. The 12 hours each way to get to Eastbourne for Weymouth's last meeting over there for there just to be 4 heats after all. And we can't not mention Mick "Mr Reliable" Sutton, who whenever the Wildcats needed a rider he was there. I am sure I have missed many other moments, which as I say goodbye people I hope will remind me of.

A mention can't go by without remembering the station sweethearts, as they were affectionately known Jordan Bull and Dan Gilkes. Dan still rides and we wish him continued good luck and hope he will be my special World Champion interview one day. Notable mentions need to go to James Jessop, who I was there for your first Wildcat meeting, and stepped up to commentate on a meeting with me, who has always put a smile on my face when things speedway wise and personally got tough. I hope that he will continue to input into our speedway in whatever format we continue in the future.

To all the listeners who have listened over the years, the riders who have spoken to us in person or over the line and the fans who have made me feel welcome, to all the owners/co-promoters who HAVE made us feel very welcome, we will miss you all, but as I type this although emotional I know it is the right decision for me and for Chesil Radio. But I will say "I'll be back!"

I will be at the IOW on Thursday to say my farewell to the Wildcats in a special recorded programme to be broadcast next week. It has to be recorded as I might be a bit emotional, but if you see me come and say hello (or goodbye!)...

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