Phil Wright: Hero of Herne Hill

2020 Local Hero in association with Lezyne: Phil Wright

Herne Hill velodrome is one of the success stories of British cycling. The only facility still in use from the 1948 Olympics, the London scene was close to losing it a few years back. Now it has a new surface, new fencing, floodlights and a fancy new clubhouse. It’s also become a conveyer belt of talent over the years as the likes of Laura Kenny, Leo and Ethan Hayter and many others develop from there. This is the work of many people, but one was nominated by his peers this year - Phil Wright. From calling the riders over the mic from the track centre to chairing The Friends of HVV for many years, Phil has been at the centre of the magic that takes place in this corner of south London.

Editor Simon Richardson met up with the man at the centre of the community that saved one of Britain’s most historic sporting venues.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekMjReSrhVk

During our interview, Phil dedicates his award to all the other volunteers at Herne Hill, and specifically George Slater who’d been coming to HHV since the 1960s and sadly died this year.

But there’s one last notable achievement of Phil’s. Perhaps more of an achievement as a father than as a volunteer. His son, the one who dragged him down here and got him into coaching and racing is Fred Wright who now rides for Bahrain Merida.

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Our contenders

Four amazing volunteers were put to the public vote. Here are the three people that Phil pipped to the award. Our sincere thanks to all of them for the incredible work they do.

Mhairi Laffoley

Mhairi went to her first bike race when she was one week old. 54 years later and there aren’t many weekends when she hasn’t been at a race of some sort. Born into a cycling family racing was their weekend family activity. She’s been running events for 25-30 years, and currently organises Fife’s midweek TT league. She volunteers as a timekeeper and TT commissaire and was awarded Scottish Cycling’s gold badge of honour for work in 2017.

Dr Lyn Williamson

A founding member of local community cycling group the Farcycles, Dr Williamson has been instrumental in the building of Faringdon’s Cycle Park, complete with miniature road network and multi-use games area). She spearheaded the fund-raising and applications for funds and grants from numerous local, national and European partners. The cycle park finally opened in July 2019 and is now considered to be an important part of the community's efforts to improve lifestyle and wellbeing.

Ian Watson

The face of women’s coaching and racing in London, he runs multiple race skills sessions each week, a full race series and runs Cycle Club London, complete with a women's development race team. Ian puts his life into cycling development, sacrificing everything to help these riders develop and achieve what they otherwise may not.

Get a copy of this week's magazine to read the full story. Available in shops on 17/12/2020.