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Sad day for speedway club as greatest fan passes away
THE family of one of the longest-serving supporters of speedway in the city hope to spread his ashes at Oxford Stadium if it is saved from the bulldozers.
Norman ‘Nobby’ Hall, died on Sunday at the age of 71 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Yesterday his family paid tribute to him while campaigners said it was another reason to fight developer Galliard Homes’s plan to convert the site into 220 homes.
Mr Hall “was an avid fan from the age of six”, his daughter Cheryl Satchell said. For more than four decades he was actively involved in the speedway, including as chairman of the supporters club in the 1970s and subsequently as a member of the voluntary track staff.
Mrs Satchell said her father was a passionate fan of motorcycle racing and the Oxford Cheetahs, although as a spectator rather than participant.
“He was never a motorcyclist himself. That was like his second life,” she said.
Mr Hall was also a person of principle. In 1973 he resigned as chairman of the supporters club because it had not been consulted about a then new Speedway Benevolent Club for the same team.
Oxford Stadium was used for both speedway and greyhound racing until 2007, when the bikes stopped. The dogs had their final run in 2012.
Mr Hall hoped the speedway would be resurrected, said his daughter. “One of his dearest wishes was to have his ashes spread on the track.
“That is on hold until we know that the stadium’s in safe hands and can be used.”
Despite suffering from advanced stages of Parkinson’s, which started in 2000, Mr Hall attended the planning meeting at Oxford Town Hall last January at which the city council turned down the developer’s application. The developer has appealed against the decision.
Back in 1977 he was actively involved in a campaign to save the stadium when it was struggling.
Former Oxford speedway promoter Aaron Lanney said: “His passing is a very sad day for the club.
“Nobby was loved and appreciated by all.
“People like him, who give their free time and energy to Oxford speedway, were the lifeblood of the club and real unsung heroes.”
Mr Hall was born in Headington and lived in Oxford all his life except for a couple of years. He had lived in Blackbird Leys since 1975.
Initially a butcher, he later worked at the Cowley car plant before becoming a taxi driver for the final two decades of his working life. He was forced to retire in 2002 due to ill health and the onset of Parkinson’s, said Mrs Satchell.
“He remained as active for as long as he could,” she said.
In addition to helping out at the speedway, he was also involved with a local Parkinson’s charity.
Robert Peasley, a spokesman for the supporters club, said: “He was at the stadium every minute of his spare time.”
Mr Hall is survived by his wife, Shirley, three children Cheryl, Tony and Donna, and three grandchildren.
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