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One of the Guild Wheel’s founding fathers has died

Posted on - 31st August, 2017 - 11:28am | Author - | Posted in - Fulwood, News, People
Peter Ward with his MBE
Peter Ward with his MBE

One of the founding fathers of Preston’s popular cycling route has died.

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Peter Ward co-designed the Guild Wheel which runs for 21-miles around the city.

Mr Ward, a tireless campaigner for cycling in the city and surrounding area, passed away aged 83 on Saturday (26 August) at Royal Preston Hospital.

Made an MBE for his public service and lived a life full of different roles.

He was an Labour councillor for more than 30 years, a long-standing union representative at BAE in Warton and also served as a magistrate for more than 40 years in Preston.

But it is cycling that Peter Ward was best known for. His daughter Marie, said he was described as the ‘Stirling Moss of cycle racing’.

Peter out on the Guild Wheel
Peter out on the Guild Wheel

She said: “In the 1955 Amateur Circuit of Britain, away in a leading group of riders on the next to the last stage and race leader on the road, he was brought off his cycle by the leading riders team car.

“In 1956, he finished four seconds behind Ericol Baldini in the Isle of Man International. Won, but was disqualified from the National Championships. Crashed and broke his wrist in the Tour Sweden. In 1957 finished fourth in the National Championships. After being in a breakaway for 100 miles he was caught four miles from the finish.

“In 1959 his forks broke when he was lying 7th in the Tour of Britain on the only part of the whole 1,000 mile course that service cars were instructed to by-pass. He then devoted his energies to the team.

“This regional team, at the finish, beat all the national teams and had riders in 1st, 4th, 8th positions.

“In 1961 he crashed on the 7th stage when lying in fourth position in the Tour of Britain. 1962, when with the leading eight riders in the 267 mile London to Holyhead and with half a mile to go, John Geddes crank broke and he fell in front of Ward, causing him to crash.”

Read more: What’s the route for the Guild Wheel?

Fellow cycling and president of the Union Cycliste Internationa (UCI) Brian Cookson said: “We had great times on the bike, training and racing and many fascinating discussion on the way, those were part of my formative years and I will never forget them, quite simply Pete helped me raise my aspirations in life because he always had the attitude that if you wanted something improved or changed then it was up to you to contribute to that change. So I can say in all honest that I would never have begun the journey that has ended in me becoming UCI president if I hadn’t know Pete, For me it was a privileged to have known him.”

While he had many falls and troubles in the professional race environment it is through cycling for pleasure that Peter gave much back to the city.

Working with Mike Atkins he designed the Guild Wheel to be a safe place for all road users.

Peter Ward at the opening of the Guild Wheel
Peter Ward with a Guild Wheel plaque

He was a tireless campaigner for protecting the Guild Wheel route after it was introduced in 2012 – and led a petition to Save the Guild Wheel which saw more than 10,000 signatures.

Read more: Petition successful in call for part of Guild Wheel to be named after Ben Ashworth

Leader of Preston City Council councillor Peter Rankin, himself a keen cyclist, said: “It’s very sad to hear that Peter has died.  He has been a marvellous ambassador for cycling in Preston and well deserved his MBE in 2013 for his work on the Guild Wheel.  Not many of us will leave a lasting legacy; Peter has.

“His determination, drive, assertiveness and commitment to cycling were instrumental in seeing through the achievement of the fantastic Guild Wheel.”

Peter leaves behind his wife of 62 years, Nora, three children Dave, Cerise and Marie. As well as grandchildren Sophie, Joe, Josie, Becci Luke and two great grandchildren Phoebe and Minnie.

A celebration of Peter Ward’s life is being held at Preston Minster on Tuesday 12 September at 2pm. All welcome.

Did you know Peter? You can leave your tributes in the comments below

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