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Looking Back

The First NSW Ď25í Ö???

Earlier this year in my first "Looking Back" I wrote that according to the Club meeting minutes there was a proposal to run a Club Ď25í and an Open Ď50í in 1927 under RRA recommendations but whether these took place was unclear. Well we recently received proof that the Ď25í was certainly held.

We were contacted by Mr Allun Williams who sent 2 photographs of an NSW medal engraved:

"North Shrops. Wheelers 25 Mile HíCap, July 13th 1927, 3rd HíCap, H Ladds"

Seemingly it had travelled back from Canada, the current owner expressing the wish that it be returned to NSW in exchange for a photo of current members and some history about the medal.

Further contact with Allun revealed that he had recently taken up the hobby of Geocaching which involves hunting down hidden caches (a sort of treasure chest) using GPS equipment. Once found, the items in the chest can be swopped and a log is signed to indicate that youíve been there. Some items are attached to what are called ĎTravel Bugsí (TB) and these have instructions with them, the goal being to move them on as per the instructions. Progress of the TB can be followed on a website.

The medal was retrieved by Allun from a metal box (cache) just off the A41 south of Hinstock. It was attached to a travel bug with the following instructions:

"This is an actual cycling medal from England which Iíve kept for a long time as I used to race and dreamed what North Shropshire looked like and wondered what H Ladds was like and how he turned out. Anyway here is a unique way for this little guy to find his way home. The goal of this TB is to return to North Shropshire, England and be given to a member of the NSW. It would be neat if a picture could be taken of the club and itís current membership but knowing that someone got the medal would make me happy. Please help this little guy make it to England."

Very little is known about H Ladds except that he was a founder member of the Club. Did he or maybe a descendant of his emigrate to Canada? Or did just the medal make it over the pond somehow? I asked Allun to contact the medalís owner hoping to find some answers and this was his reply:

"I appreciate the effort you have taken to get this TB home. Iím no relation to H Ladds but in my youth I loved cycling. I was going to be World Champion, win the Tour de France and all that stuff. Itís funny how I still enjoy cycling but on a totally different level. I also enjoy antiques and went to a show about 27 years ago and saw this medal and just had to have it. The dealer knew nothing about it except for the usual answer, ĎÖgot it from a guy who was selling a bunch of stuffí. So perhaps H Ladds moved to Canada or his relatives did and kept the medal. In any event it was from the clubís second year in existence so I figured Iíd try and get it home to the club. Iíd like the Wheelers to keep the medal and if you like to replace it with another Wheelers TB Iíd be honoured and appreciate the effort. Again thank you for going the extra mile on this one."

So, no answers there then, maybe weíll never know what happened between 1927 when the medal was awarded and 1982 when it was purchased from an antique shop. From the correspondence it appears that the guy in Canada did his own research into the medalís history and visited our website, (see Gill, at least one person has visited the site this year to make your efforts worthwhile ..!!). Why he didnít contact us directly and chose to send the medal back to us the way he did I donít know. I suppose if heís into geocaching he thought it was a novel way to return it and was interested in following itís progress to see if it did make itís way back to us.

Anyway as some of you will know, following a recent evening 10, Allun returned the medal to us and photos were taken to send back to Canada. In exchange we gave Allun an NSW metal and cloth badge to enable the TB to continue itís journey, presumably back to Canada. (a current cheap metal and cloth badge seemed to me to be a fair exchange for an 82 year old hallmarked sterling silver medal ..!!).

Allun has since contacted me to say that he has released the TB again south of Market Drayton. Each TB has a unique number and as it happens we have a member, Ray Gibson who is interested in geocaching so if possible he is going to follow itís journey back to Canada and also to research the journey that the medal took from when it left Canada to when it turned up by the A41 near Hinstock.

Itís interesting how this piece of Club history has come to light and itís a pity that we donít know what times were done or what course was used. I do know however that in the early days before the traffic lights were installed at Tern Hill (which was before the island thatís there now) the Club did have an out & home 25 course on the A41, starting somewhere near Whitchurch and turning in the road somewhere near Hinstock. I donít know if that course was used in 1927 but it seems a bit SPOOKEY that of all the places around Whitchuch that the medal could have turned up IT WAS FOUND BURIED JUST OFF THE A41 NEAR HINSTOCK Ö!!!

Ian Hassall