‘Cycling Anecdotes – Dot Tilbury’, 17th September 2014, by John Slater

It was my great pleasure to open the September meeting of Peel Heritage Trust by presenting a cheque for £1 139 to two representatives of the Royal British Legion for the Poppy Appeal. This was the profit from our two performances, last month of The Green Fields of France. Our thanks to the very appreciative audiences and to our sponsors, listed on the special edition of a Peel City Guardian distributed on the two nights.
Welcoming Dot is always a great pleasure. The audience was poised and expectant for what we knew would be a great evening.  Dot began by talking about her childhood fitness regime walking up and down the hill to Marown School. This was often a twice daily event when coming home for lunch.  Not many problems with obese children in those healthy days!
Dot reminisced about the times she spent in Peel, as a child. She had friends on Marine Drive and would stay there to take in the delights of the cinema and the Marine Hall.
After leaving school, she eventually went to London to broaden her experience. She must have done this all right as she arranged to stay with some long lost aunties. All that was known about them was that they were dancers. It transpired that their costumes consisted of little more than strategically placed ostrich feathers. Maybe we could acquire these accessories from the Wildlife Park for Dot’s next visit!
However, a Christmas job in Harrod’s toy department was a good start. She sold some bikes to Cilla Black, a nudge towards her future fame. She then went to Peter Robinsons and was suddenly promoted to a supervisor when her boss hit the headlines of the News of the World as the 12 times a night man, whatever that meant! I think I heard that aright! My pen was a little surprised.
After five years, the Island called and Dot returned to work for the Post Office, under Mr Slack who was a keen cyclist. Thus encouraged, she got herself a sports bike for commuting and was urged to enter sprints and 10 mile time trials and started to do rather well. She was in the world of cycling!
In no time at all, she was involved in committee work, becoming Chairman of the IOM Cycling Association.
The building of the NSC in 1991 with a suitable cycle track prompted her to start a children’s cycling club. The first night they had fourteen children. This rapidly grew with novelty triathlons of one lap running, one cycling and one in fancy dress.
The following year saw thirty-nine children taken away for contests all over Britain.
Club nights started to see more than one hundred children with strong parental support. There were events for little ones still using stabilisers or pedal toys. Dot’s enthusiasm and love continues to sweep everyone along in a great tide of enthusiasm.
Suddenly, the names tripping from Dot’s tongue, girls and boys, we now know as international and world champions. We were shown photographs of a young Mark Cavendish on his BMX bike. With a more suitable bike, Dot took him to races for 11 and 12 year olds. She asked him how he thought he’d do and he said, “I’ll win!” and he nearly did! This confidence and drive took him to the very top as World Champion. It is perhaps to the whole phalanx of Manx cycling stars from Dot’s club that accounts for the fact that there are now 790 in the club.
Such is parental commitment that parents make huge sacrifices to support their children, even down-sizing their houses! The children’s success repays this. Apparently, in one major competition, there were prizes of six fine cycles. The Manxies won 5 of them!
Dot gave us the three most important things to succeed – 1 talent, 2 to know how to win and 3, the will to win. I guess that these qualities apply to success in life in general.
International newspapers such as the Times and Telegraph fall over themselves to find and wedge themselves into the Braaid Hall for training sessions together with world-wide T.V. coverage. The Braaid may well be the centre of the cycling universe. One thing is certain – Dot is the Queen of Cycling. Long may she reign!
Our next meeting is part of the Isle of Man Heritage Open Days on Sunday, 5th October. Meet in or at Peel Cemetery chapel at 2.30pm for ‘Carve Their Names with Pride.’ This is a conducted tour of First World War and other notable graves. Leaflets with photographs, details and a plan are available to all. If the weather is severe, it will be postponed for one week. This will also give you a chance to view the chapel and beautifully set cemetery from the vertical position!

Wednesday the 15th October will be in the Centenary Centre at 7.30pm for John ‘Dog’ Collister, A Walk with ‘Dog’ in Nepal. This will centre on the amazing work in Kirk Michael to help the hill people of Nepal. These events are very special so do join us.