Diss cycling stalwart Geoff Banham dies, aged 80

Geoff banham, who recently passed away at 80, in May 2016. ANL-160106-162612001
Geoff banham, who recently passed away at 80, in May 2016. ANL-160106-162612001

Diss cycling stalwart and former national record holder Geoff Banham has died. He was 80.

Although Mr Banham moved from Diss to Bungay in the 1980s and became involved in the Godric Cycling Club there, his name is still widely remembered in the town.

His contribution to cycling in Diss was immense

Mick Madgett

He was one of the cyclists involved in launching the hugely popular round-the-town races in the 1970s, and many pupils at the former Diss Secondary Modern School he encouraged to take up cycling are still riding today.

“His contribution to cycling in Diss was immense,” said Mick Madgett, of Madgetts Cycles and son of Diss Cycling Club founder Eric.

“He was introduced to the club in the late 40s or early 50s by my father and helped to keep it going through a bit of a fallow period in the 60s.”

He was so committed to cycling that it was said he would finish an early shift at the former Wrens bakery on Fair Green and place a set of cycle rollers in front of the open oven doors and, sweating to keep his weight down, complete a training ride, said Mr Madgett.

As well as introducing many new riders to the club, Mr Banham was a keenly competitive cyclist and tricyclist himself and with colleagues Peter Schaay and Paul Denny set a new team 100 mile tricycle record with a combined time of 14hr 57min 14sec in 1960.

Mr Banham was born near Eye and set up home at Roydon with his wife Betty when they married.

As a young man he had hoped to be a farrier but went into baking, first at Redgrave and then with Wrens of Diss, and later had his own bakery businesses at Diss and Bungay.

As well as his involvement in cycling, he found time to help at the Diss Youth Centre despite working sometimes 100 hours a week and regularly right through the night on a Friday.

“He just wanted to keep young people off the streets,” said Mrs Banham.

At Bungay he was also heavily involved in a community car scheme.

“I don’t know how he did it. He packed twice as much into his life as some people,” said Mrs Banham.

Mr Banham, who away from his full business and community life enjoyed cruising holidays in Europe, had latterly moved to Hempnall and died on Sunday.