Wednesday, September 5

Mourning a Gentleman

Early this morning a great man was taken gently into the endless night, a man to whom the epithet Gentleman truly belonged. 

John Lawrence was a fearless and talented amateur jockey and also a journalist of great professionalism, insight and wit. A man with such integrity and humility he filed copy for the Telegraph shortly after being passed on the long Aintree run-in during the 1963 Grand National without showing any great bitterness in that last gasp defeat.

 Picture from the Daily Telegraph

Later as Lord Oaksey (having inherited the title from his father) he was a founding Trustee of the Farrell-Brookshaw Fund which became the Injured Jockeys Fund, providing financial and pastoral assistance to jockeys forced to end their career through injury.

A man of great wit and humour he exuded intelligence and mishief in equal measure and was rarely without a chuckle.  His autobiography Mince Pie for Starters is typically self deprecating and the audio version, read by John himself, told with such amusement the listener feels great pity not to have been there at the time. 

I was honoured to have known him albeit briefly in the twilight of his years and shall remember him with great fondness and respect.

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