The first woman sidecar driver from the Isle of Man to compete in the TT may have been forced into a premature retirement after being refused leave from work to compete this year.
Debbie Barron, who marshals at Ballagarey when not racing, took part for the first time in the 2012 TT sidecar races and again in 2013, achieving finishes in both races.
This year was to be her last anyway and with plans already in place the refusal has come as a bitter blow.
‘It was always going to be just a three-year commitment – money, time and resources simply don’t allow most of us to carry on indefinitely,’ she explained.
‘The plan was always to do it three times and then call it a day.
‘Anyone who has taken part knows planning to race in the TT starts well in advance. My passenger has paid travel expenses to get here and I have cousins who were coming from Australia to support me who have already paid their air fares. My car was sold to buy a race van and I have a sidecar engine being refreshed ready for this year’s event.
‘I made the request for annual leave and it’s been bounced back to me. It was well known a long time in advance that I wanted the time off and it’s not as if I don’t go the extra mile at other times.’
Debbie, who works as a life guard at the Southern local authority swimming pool, said she had been left with three options: take unpaid leave and also find a stand-in to cover her period off work; forget about doing this year’s TT; or find another job.
‘I appreciate I’m not the only person in the world this has ever happened to and I don’t want to whinge about it,’ she said.
‘But this was to be my last year doing the TT and they were well aware of that.’
Chairman of the southern local authority swimming pool board Adrian Cowin said leave had to be applied for and approved the same as in any other work place.
‘A decision is then taken on operational grounds,’ he said. ‘We have clearly laid down policies for what cover we need in a period of leave and we look at them and consider whether or not we can accommodate it.
‘It all depends on resources available at the time but the details of any particular member of staff are private.
‘Most firms will experience high demand at some times of the year like school holidays or Christmas or sporting events people may be involved in, and you have to try to be fair across the board.
‘We can’t all be off at the same time and what is important to one person may be different for another.’
As far as Debbie is concerned she is determined to put a positive spin on things.
‘I’m trying to remain upbeat,’ she said.
‘I will be doing the Southern 100 – they have given me that week off.’