Don French who died last month, at the age of 82 after a long illness,following a stroke, has a unique record in the Eastern Centre. In 1956, he won the 250cc Centre Scrambles (motocross) Championship, and the following year became Centre champion in trials. After 1958, a year where he finished the series as runner-up, he won the Trials championship again in 1959 – and was runner up yet again in 1960. A farmer from Brantham,Suffolk, he was also a pioneer with his riding Eastern European two-stroke machines – Jawa and CZ - in scrambling (motocross) a full decade before they were widely used in this country. His great engineering talent was deployed on his bikes – he converted his trials 500T Norton - with a rigid rear frame – to swinging arm suspension and some years later, was one of the first to convert and use the Royal Enfield, 250cc “Crusader” in trials competition. His most interesting construction was probably a 250cc OHC Ducati powered, trials machine.
His skills further extended to the renovation of veteran bikes – beautifully restoring some of the oldest machines constructed – which included an: “Anglian” 148cc motorcycle, originally manufactured in Stowmarket in 1903 by Stannard and co. His machines regularly took part in the major “runs” for old motorcycles, including the Brighton and Banbury runs. Don recovered sufficiently from a brain tumour operation many years ago to still be able to compete in “Pre 65” classic trials, where he rode a BSA. His riding aptitude was clearly passed on to his son: Roger, who also proved to be a winning rider in both scrambling, and trials.