Kenneth Patrick

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KENNETH Patrick, who has died aged 81, was a former motorcycle racer who won races and hill climbs across the North of England and at the Isle of Man TT Races.

He was an engineer by profession but for a time combined his working life with competitive racing during which he gained a reputation for courage at speed.

Mr Patrick was born in Pontefract, the only son and the elder child of Ernest and Ellen Patrick. His father was an enthusiastic motor cycling racer and a mechanic who worked at Ewbanks, a local motorcycle shop in Pontefract. He won more than 40 races and hill climbs before the Second World War, and it was an enthusiasm his son inherited.

By the age of 16 Kenneth was riding his own machine, a James 125cc, although he soon moved on to a BSA 350 cc, and at 17 was entering Trials. At 21 he was competing in the twice-yearly Esholt Sprint in the 1950s, at Cadwell Park and at the Manx TT races where he won prizes in the Junior and Senior races in 1955.

It was there he gained a reputation for courage, recording a maximum speed of 120 mph on one stretch, although his fame arose from the speed at which he took the corners.

But in 1958, his racing career ended after he was seriously injured in a crash on a bend on the mountain section while practising for the Manx Grand Prix.

Before his accident, he had won at Aintree, Cadwell Park, Scarborough and Silverstone and he was a favourite to win the Senior Isle of Man TT race that year.

Throughout his racing career Mr Patrick had always worked with his father, a skilled mechanic who maintained and tuned his machines.

But on that occasion his Norton motorcycle had been tuned by someone else and something gave way. As a result he decided to give up competition, although continuing to ride to work, instead settling for family life after meeting socially, then marrying in 1962, Diana Dunford.

Mr Patrick was educated at Kings School, Pontefract. After leaving with a School Certificate at nearly 16, he became a mechanical engineering apprentice at Yorkshire Copper Works, at Stourton, near Leeds, studying at night school to gain the professional qualifications of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

He spent his entire working life with the company which later became Yorkshire Imperial Metals, then Imperial Metal Industries from which he retired at 62 as senior engineering designer in the fittings division.

After giving up competitive riding, he turned to sailing and had a boat at Naburn Lock, near York. Later he sold it and bought a camper van which he and the family travelled in for many years both at home and abroad. He was still camping only two weeks before he died.

He was a member of Rothwell Rotary Club, and Woodlesford in Bloom with whom he helped to keep the village tidy, and was a keen model ship builder.

Another of his interests was to mainly read books in French. He took to the language after a holiday in France during which the camper van broke down. He had difficulty in making the garage understand the problem and when he returned home went to night school to learn the language. Ever after he took to reading mainly in French.

Mr Patrick is survived by his wife Diana, children Andrew and Carolyn, a grandson and granddaughter, and by his younger sister Ruth.

A funeral service will be held at St John the Evangelist Church, Oulton, near Wakefield on Wednesday, September 3 at 9.30am.