OBITUARY: Rod Witham

33/18 News has received the very sad news that former Cycle Speedway Comission Chairman Rod Witham died in a Manchester hospital on Wednesday 8th July after a major operation following the discovery of cancer. Rod was secretary of the Poringland Lakes environmental organisation as well as an accomplished rider with the Galley Pirates and being a member of the inaugural British Lions team which toured Australia in 1981.

Graham Sutton has sent in this tribute to Rod:

“The Cycle Speedway world is saddened at the news that long term loyal servant Rod Witham passed away earlier this week after a short illness. An accomplished rider with Galley Pirates, Rod toured Australia on the inaugural British Lions tour in 1981 having made the initial contact with the late Mick Harley for what has become an enduring and mainstay feature of international racing in the following four decades.

“Rod became a pivotal figure on the Cycle Speedway Council, overseeing the transition to British Cycling custodianship and his contribution to the sport was second to none throughout the time of his involvement. Typifying the quality of his work was “Fifty Years of Cycle Speedway” which serves as a lasting reminder to his enthusiasm for the sport. “Spokesman” magazine and the subsequent “On-line” version add further proof of his prolific output should any be needed.

“On a personal note, it was a privilege to work alongside Rod when the sport was raising its national profile with
names like British Airways, Corona Soft Drinks and the Daily Mirror amongst our sponsors. We have lost one of the true greats of the modern era and someone who was a true friend and colleague. Our sincere sympathies go to Rod’s wife Karen and family.”

Dave Murphy, who sent in the photos used in this article, has also sent in a tribute:

“I’m so thankful that I lived and raced in an era when I could fully benefit from Rod’s cycle speedway involvement and contribution. RIP Rod.”

Rod Witham & Mick Harley meet for the first time in 1981. Photo taken by Roger Nicholson
Rod Witham in action for Great Britain during the inaugural British Lions tour. Photo taken by Roger Nicholson
Rod Witham & Mick Harley pictured with the Harley Witham Shield at Poole in 2015.