There have been many good ones over the years and I was bound to miss one or two!
One such was Fred Clarke and I now remember he broadcast from Ballacraine, Ballaugh Bridge and Ramsey Hairpin with timekeeper Paddy O’Hanlon.
I was always amazed at the speed and accuracy of the timekeeper update in the heat of the action.
Paddy was a timekeeper with Manx Radio for almost 50 years and worked with many commentators on last week’s list.
His late brother Tim is also remembered fondly as a timekeeper for the races starting in 1965 at the Bungalow with Ian Cannell.
When I was young I was good friends with both Leece families and remember playing with Corgi cars (the most popular being Mini Cooper S models) with David, Glen and Gary in particular.
David’s mum and dad Ken and Evelyn were well respected in Manx Auto Sport and the rally scene generally.
They were also involved in the commentary at Ballaugh Bridge.
Geoff Cannell was timekeeper for Jack Cretney.
Peter Kneale had Ronnie Corrin in that important role.
I think Geoff moved to Ballaugh Bridge as commentator when Ken Leece retired in 1971, the same year that Paddy O’Hanlon started at Ballacraine with Jack at Manx Grand Prix time.
His brother Tim was at Ballaugh with Geoff Cannell until 1986 when many of us recall the tragedy involving Gene McDonnell, which happened as the race was being broadcast live and Geoff handled the situation with real sensitivity handing back to the Grandstand.
Tim subsequently moved to timekeeping duties in the pit area with Fred Clarke and his brother Paddy moved to Ballaugh.
At that time Maurice Mawdsley and Ian Turnbull took over at Ballacraine.
After some time the commentary points changed, with Paddy and Fred relocating to Ramsey Hairpin and Maurice and Ian being positioned at Glen Helen.
Paddy O’Hanlon was the only timekeeper that has officiated at all points over the years. Other timekeepers include Peter Lees at the Grandstand, Jerry Jones at Ballaugh, and Dave Phillips at Ramsey Hairpin and the Grandstand.
Roy Sweetman was timekeeper when Dave Christian commentated so well from Glen Helen and Norman Quayle also performed the timekeeping role at the TT Grandstand.
I also spoke to TT ‘fact expert’ Paul Copparelli, who reminded me that Barbara McNeill provided German commentary for our continental visitors, something which in my opinion is sadly missed these days with an International event of such importance. She would always sign off with ‘Danke Peter!’
Lots of people have been enjoying sea swimming over the past few years.
Clear benefits are seen in well-being and general mental health and it is really good to see so many people benefiting from this activity around our island.
It’s sometimes interesting how things like this come around again.
I have swum in the sea, not for a very long time though, but what I do remember was first the Turkish baths in Noble’s Baths in Victoria Street, which I never used and the facilities at the Derby Castle Aquadrome, which I did!
A spacious, well set out area included sauna cabins and steam room together with the coldest deep plunge pool.
You just had to jump in and, after getting over the initial shock, I believe it was really beneficial in a similar way to sea swimming.
There was also the latest aerotone bath which made you feel like you were in a pan full of warm water rushing all around your body!
Afterwards there were rows of beds on which you could relax before getting on with the daily routine!
The Parish Walk 2023 takes place on Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25.
So, first of all, good luck to all competitors whatever your aim is when you take part in this special Isle of Man event.
There will be the very serious competitors, many of whom will have put in hundreds of miles of training with a particular aim in mind.
Those whose aim may be a little less ambitious but aew equally worthy as thousands of pounds are raised for all manner of charities.
The weather will no doubt play a part, as often it does.
Will it be under blistering heat for most of the day or, as many have experienced in the past, what seems like hours of pouring rain, asking yourself ‘why am I doing this?’.
Ideally, it will be neither of those two mid-summer extremes.
Whatever happens it is as much about having the correct mindset to continue to persevere whatever your target.
Take each parish one by one. Don’t be tempted to go off faster than you have trained.
This is an ultra marathon rather than a sprint.
On the day don’t use new trainers or clothing which hasn’t been tested in advance.
Otherwise an annoying friction rubbing in sensitive places can put paid to all your ambitions.
Some people can go the full distance with no detriment to the feet while others will have blisters early on in the event.
I remember several times being treated at Lezayre 61 miles for blisters which were seen to by a kind person and I continued on my way, hobbling for a short while before getting back to my pace.
However, for anyone who has seen the photographs of the feet of Dudley Butt, there is no way I could have continued to the finish as he doggedly did.
One thing I always find amusing is the comment ’I’m only going to Peel’ because Peel the Parish Walk way is a marathon plus six miles when you reach the town hall.
I’ve called it a day there on a number of occasions and it takes some bottle to carry on past the crowds who welcome you into the Sunset City, only to carry on a more solitude march towards Kirk Michael and beyond.
However the view of the north West coast stretching towards Jurby and Bride makes the commitment to carry on so much more worthwhile.
After Bride and travelling towards Andreas in the distance you can hear the locals in the village having an open air party with music and hospitality. They are always good to cheer you on with shouts such as ‘are you having fun minister?’.
I’ve only once got to Ramsey in daylight, whereas the top competitors are long gone into the distance.
After Ramsey it’s more often been dark when I got to Maughold and again the local community provide welcome refreshments for competitors or supporters.
There are not many street lights in Maughold so it’s often a lonely slog, with only the sound of wildlife for company.
Coming in to Laxey, the reality that you may actually complete the 85 miles really gave me a boost. In fact it’s a feeling of elation which helps carry you on through the miles ahead.
At Lonan and Onchan you have to go back on yourself which can be a bit debilitating but the feeling as you head towards Douglas Promenade is like no other.
On the day make sure you keep hydrated and I tried to eat little and often with bananas and flapjacks but each to their own!