The TT Helicopter ‘Airmed’ was inaugurated 60 years ago in June 1963 and used almost immediately to save the life of rider British rider Tony Godfrey.
Known to many simply as ‘Fred’ in those days, Godfrey came off his works Yamaha 250 RD56 at Milntown, suffering a fractured skull.
He had qualified fourth and was holding onto second place in the race behind team-mate Fumio Ito when he stopped at Kirk Michael for a plug change on lap two, demoting him to seventh.
His crash, on the approach to Ramsey, occurred on lap three. He spent a long time in hospital, but ultimately made a complete recovery.
When Tony Godfrey died in a Bournemouth care home in December 2019, he had no known relatives and had not made a will.
The local council contacted professional probate genealogist firm, Finders International – stars of BBC’s Heir Hunters programme - to trace any potential heirs to his estate that also included two classic cars.
The research revealed that Tony, who was born in Southampton, was a former British and US Grand Prix winner [Daytona 1962] and had competed in the TT.
He never married nor had any children and was an only child. Ultimately the daughter of a cousin of his became the sole beneficiary of the estate valued in the region of £30,000 and two classic cars.
After being contacted by Finders International she first had to check her credentials and confirm that it was not a hoax.
‘I never knew or met Tony. I had done some family research into my grandmother’s family but I didn’t find out very much about Tony’s father,’ she said.
‘It’s very sad to think Tony died and we never knew each other.’
He was aged 32 when he crashed in 1963. He was taken to Ramsey Cottage Hospital where he remained unconscious for 10 days, cared for by Matron Myra Kelly.
The pair kept in touch over the years and in 2007 Tony flew back to the island, then aged 76, for the first time since the accident, for a reunion with his carer.
Godfrey was a keen drummer and played in a number of jazz bands in his later years.