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Fidel Castro passed away while I was there, and the news was received with
appropriate respect, but none of the over-the-top wailing and gnashing of
teeth of, say, North Korea. The government announced 9 days of official
mourning, and people turned up in the town square to pay their respects by
filing past large photos of Fidel. They did this in large numbers, and of their
own accord as far as I could tell. No doubt there were some groups of people
who were much less supportive of the regime, however we saw just respectful
acknowledgement of his life and achievements.

Last week I learned the sad news that Chris Grant passed away in Exeter,
aged just 42. Chris was a member of De Laune around the early 90s for
about 5 years in his late teens, and was then being fostered by Mary and
Francis Rudd. Chris had been living near his natural family in Exeter for some
time, but his life was not an easy one, with physical and mental health
challenges. We send our condolences to all the Rudds, who provided him with
some much-needed stability back then, and of course to his family should
they read this.

On a brighter note, the new Herne Hill pavilion is now on the verge of
completion. As most of you will know, this is the end of a six-year campaign,
started by a local resident, Hillary Peachey (no relation to our own eminent
dynasty) who is not even a cyclist. She co-ordinated a well-planned ‘Save
the Velodrome’ campaign that cut through the impasse that existed with
the Dulwich Estate at that time; used her contacts to bring together a
group of highly qualified people to form the Herne Hill Velodrome Trust as a
charity; the Trust has now produced a sound business plan to make the
Velodrome a going concern going forward.

Over the last few years, they secured significant funding to resurface the
track and replace the track fence (funds from former De Laune member
Leonard Lyes via British Cycling); track lighting and an inner warm-up track
thanks to legacy funding from the London Olympics; and the pavilion is
designed by Olympic Velodrome architect Mike Taylor, funded by Sport
England and the London Marathon Trust.

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