Sheila Edwards (nee Barlow) was born in Alton Priors and grew up in Devizes. Sheila joined the Chippenham Wheelers in 1956 when the club met at the church hall in St Marys Place. Sheila joined in with many of the club activities and particularly enjoyed racing, taking part in the ever-popular club runs and attended many youth hostel weekends away with the club.
Sheila’s brother Ted Barlow was an established club member which was what drew Sheila to the club in the first place where she met Mike Edwards a successful rider not only in the club but in the West Country and beyond. Mike and Sheila were married in November 1960
Sheila became ever more involved with club life and was elected as Social Secretary in 1956 sharing the post with her mother Alice Barlow. They continued jointly for several years, but subsequently Sheila continued in the role on her own for many more years after.
Sheila also held the post of Racing Secretary (she even used to keep a record of total mileage completed by the racing members during the season long before spreadsheets……!!)
In the mid to late 50’s (I’m told around 1958….) Sheila was the winner of the CDW Ladies BAR. So, for many of the newer members of the club who only ever saw Sheila timing them in time trials, she had a long history and association with the sport and pastime.
Sheila will mostly be remembered for her dedication to the sport through her time keeping duties not just Chippenham Wheelers events but throughout the West District.
Sheila took up Timekeeping for club events from 1965 due to her brother always having to forfeit his own ride in order to time keep… She progressed to timing open events with her last event being the CDW open 3up in October 2018. (Having organised the open 3 up for 37 years and Sheila having timed everyone with Mike sat alongside her I felt honoured and privileged that the last time trial that Sheila held a watch was my 3 Up Team Time Trial.)
She timed several National events including the National 10-mile TT at Newbury where she timed ‘Bradley Wiggins’ (he came 2nd)
Sheila was not just a timekeeper as already indicated but also organised numerous social events including the Hill climb/3up weekend social event which was a well-attended “Pie and Mash” supper on the Saturday evening, with one of the first video screenings, showing the ‘Hill climb riders’ taken earlier that afternoon. Most riders stayed over and rode both the Hill climb and the 3 Up the day after.
In the early to mid-Eighties the club leisure rides (club runs) would often meet the “fast boys” at a pre-determined layby or similar where Sheila would provide tea and cake at ‘TEA STOPS’ on the side of the road with her mother as well as at numerous end of race teas in a tent with gas urns etc. This was the era before Open event time trials used village halls…
Sheila was also a club delegate for Western Time Trial Association (WTTA)and Western Counties Road Records Association (WCRRA)
Sheila and Mike were the Joint winners of the first presenting of the John Galway Shield for services to the Cycling Time Trials West District Committee
Sheila managed the signing on duties for the popular Wednesday evening Time Trials and also the regular Youth Time Trials as well as covering the finish time keeping duties. She was also a regular signing on official at the Chippenham Wheelers Castle Combe Good Friday events.
At our December Committee meeting we had to agree a recipient for the club “effort” trophy. This is one of the only subjective awards the club makes. However, as Sheila had only recently announced that she was to retire from time keeping after well over 50 years of holding the watch, there was a unanimous vote to award Sheila the effort trophy for her years of dedication and service to the club.
At the National Cycling Time Trials board meeting in December I had submitted an application for a CTT gold Badge of honour for Sheila in recognition of her service to the sport of time trialling over so many years. The National Committee agreed to the award and I am delighted that Sheila was aware that the award had been made before she passed away peacefully in her sleep early on Christmas Eve Morning.
The club held our annual New Year’s Day Kilometre Time Trial at Castle Combe Circuit and I am delighted to say that Sue stepped up to time the finish sat alongside her Dad which I am sure is what Sheila would have wished for more than anything. I am sure that she was looking down making sure that we were all following procedures as we should, but most importantly continuing her legacy with plenty of smiles and much reminiscing!
The funeral will be held on Monday 21st January, 1:30pm at St Peters Church, Lords Mead, Chippenham, SN14 0LL followed by burial at Chippenham Cemetery, London Road, Chippenham SN15 3RD
The family welcome all to The Angel Hotel (Avon Suite), Market Place Chippenham, SN15 3HD afterwards.