Lives remembered: Eddie Crooks

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The Independent Online

My godfather Eddie Crooks, who died on 6 August in Douglas Hospice, was a motorcyclist who made his name on the Isle of Man. He was also the first Suzuki dealer in the UK.

Edwin Brian Crooks was born in Ringley near Bolton, the only son of Vera and Joe Crooks, on 28 October 1931. In 1946 he moved to the Isle of Man with his parents when they bought The Ascot Hotel on Douglas Promenade. He finished his education at Douglas High School, where he enjoyed being captain of the football team. An enthusiastic cyclist with Manx Viking Wheelers on Sundays, he was already showing interest in motorcycle trials.

He rose to fame when he was conscripted to the Royal Artillery, winning his first of three gold medals in International six day trials. He made his name as a racer on the challenging 37.73-mile road course on the island, both as a TT rider and in the Manx Grand Prix. Riding a Norton, he won the 1959 senior race with race and lap records of 94.87mph.

In 1961 Eddie and his wife Pauline became proud parents of Martin and, four years later, Susan. On retirement from racing Eddie set up his own motorcycle dealership in Barrow and was the first Suzuki dealer in the UK. Due to his love of road racing he saw the potential for turning Suzuki road bikes into race winners, and that is what he did with his race team.

Eddie's "Crooks Suzuki" team won races at national and international level, including the Manx Grand Prix, TT and Thruxton 500 mile events. Crooks Suzuki is still successfully run by his son. In 1968 Eddie raced again at Monza and his team set the 350cc 24-hour record, which still stands today. He was a generous man, giving his time, skills and sponsorship at club and national level, giving a kick-start to many an aspiring champion.

In 1986 Eddie married Margaret and returned to the Isle of Man – after being an only child he suddenly acquired 12 brothers and sisters, but quickly adjusted to the joys of large families. Still mad about bikes, Eddie filled the garage with bike parts and was often called upon in race weeks for emergencies. He also took every opportunity for a trip on a bike including not only the veterans' lap on the TT course but also as an extra in the film Waking Ned.

He was a keen bowler and played bowls at Finch Hill, where he was club president in 2007. His love for Bolton Wanderers stayed with him throughout his life and he enjoyed many visits to the Reebok Stadium. The high point for him was being a guest of the club's directors to celebrate his 75th birthday. Eddie was a fantastic racer and a gentleman with a great heart – he will be missed by all who knew him.

Charlotte D Richardson

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