Speedway fan with Exmouth links dies

PUBLISHED: 15:19 24 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:42 10 June 2010

A MOTORCYCLE enthusiast from Exmouth has died following a long battle with cancer. Michael Barnes, a former international speedway referee, lived in Exeter Road for 26 years before moving to Wareham, in 1997. He died at his Dorset home on Friday, August 1

A MOTORCYCLE enthusiast from Exmouth has died following a long battle with cancer.

Michael Barnes, a former international speedway referee, lived in Exeter Road for 26 years before moving to Wareham, in 1997. He died at his Dorset home on Friday, August 14.

The 73-year-old, who leaves his wife, Sylvia, and daughter, Julia Read, 32, had suffered from prostate cancer for 12 years.

Michael's funeral was held at Poole Crematorium last Tuesday.

Sylvia said: "He was well-known in Exmouth - a man who everyone liked. He was a very nice person and generous. I always loved him; I still do and will miss him a great deal."

Michael had worked as an engineering lecturer at Exeter College. He qualified as a speedway referee in 1974 and, thereafter, took control of a number of meetings throughout the UK.

Tony Lethbridge, 61, knew Michael through his involvement with the old Exeter Falcons team.

"I got to know him between 1982 and 1997. He refereed the first meeting I was in charge of," said Tony, who used to work as clerk of the course.

"He was a real speedway enthusiast, and a very good referee."

Michael and Sylvia would regularly go dancing together at the Bastin Hall in Exmouth.

"We used to do ballroom, Latin American and sequence dancing," said Sylvia.

Daughter Julia's former husband, Dennis Hassell, died of prostate cancer in February last year.

Speaking about her memories of Michael, Julia, who attended Exmouth Community College, said: "He was a lovely dad. Whatever I wanted I got. What more can you say about such a good father."

Sylvia added: "I hope in a million years I knew see anyone die of cancer again because it is a wicked, cruel disease.

"But, he is at peace now and is surrounding me all the time."

Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in the UK. Nearly 35,000 men are diagnosed each year and more than 10,000 die from the disease.

For more information on prostate cancer, visit the following website at: www.prostate-cancer.org.uk

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