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John Thomas

John Thomas


"John Thomas was only ever my co-driver in one rally, but in a way it was a life-changing experience for me. We have been close friends ever since and talk on the phone on an almost weekly basis.

It was early 1975 in Finland when one day I received a letter from a John Thomas from Wales. With my limited English I could not figure out John's hand-written scribble, but I understood numbers. Avon Garage from Maesteg had succumbed to John's pressure and promised £300 sponsorship if I came over with my Ascona and participated in the Welsh Rally with John.

It felt like winning the lottery! We hammered out the worst dents from my Opel and, a few days later, put it on a ship to the UK. Couple of months in advance. I did not want to miss the start! In my wildest dreams I could not have imagined what Tony Mason from Ford was going to say to me at the start line: ‘At the end of the rally do not speak to anybody before speaking to us.' I believe that we should do what our heart tells us to do. Then life will unfold in front of us as it is meant to do.

Prior to the Welsh rally, I spent three weeks in Maesteg with John, his wife Susan and their in-laws. When you jump into the deep end of the pool, that's when the steep learning curve starts! Everything was new to me and I felt like driving in the left-hand lane of life all the time; slightly uncertain of myself but fascinated by everything I experienced and saw. The challenge was there from language and lack of showers to Welsh food and sheep whose hill-side legs were shorter... I recall all that with nostalgia and lot of warmth because that's how I was treated by John's family.

I learned that there were three cornerstones in John's life: rugby, the Labour Party and rallying. He has stayed true to his values and that says an awful lot of a man. What a friend, John Thomas!" (Partial citation from Epynt book.)