Many members know John Thornhill but may not know that on the 12th November John will reach another milestone in his life, his 90th birthday. Many of you, including myself were not born when he joined Stone Wheelers back in 1948 along his brother Eric Thornhill. They along with another well-known member over 70 years ago Jimmy Ogden, who later became the longest serving president of the Manchester and District VTTA formed the team of three. Their objective back then was team wins which back in the late 1940s were the main objectives of many clubs if not all. The three were coached by yet another historical member of Stone Wheelers known throughout the country and the world, the late great Tommy Godwin the world millage record holder. The three trained under Tommy for 12 hour events, 100 mile time trials and common place back in the day place to place records. They bought Stone Wheelers to be one of the esteemed clubs of its day. Historically much of John’s time and that of his team mates can be realised simply by looking at Stone Wheelers trophies awarded to riders of today. John met and married Ray, who joined the club back in 1953 and together joined forces on the clubs committee and as officials of the club which continued up until earlier this year when John decided it’s time to give up the baton of President feeling someone younger should now take up the rains. John and Ray are both life members of the club, incredibly having served the club collectively for 135 years, which I can only guess will be another record likely not to be surpassed in our future.

In 1953 John and Eric started their own business which took up much of their time. Ray also played a crucial role in the business but never the less managed to find the time to take up the position of the clubs treasurer a position she held until the 80s.  During this time she patiently and prudently invested the clubs money to every ones advantage.

John and Ray started a family having 2 children Jonathan and Susan. Jonathan who lives near bye and Sue lives in Australia. They have three grandchildren who they love to see as often as they can. 


I think this is an overview of an incredible couple, they lived through difficult times. They’ve worked so hard for Stone Wheelers, overcome many hurdles and as John openly admits becoming 90 years is yet another achievement, however it’s clear to him the biggest hurdle, time cannot be beaten, hence his decision to pass on his incredible legacy to a younger man, time to stand down.


Covid 19 as bought about many changes this year not least to the club. No dinner, so unable to honour this incredible man, an incredible couple. To this end our committee would ask you as members to put together a few words by email to myself and Paul so collectively we can all put something together, a card or photo book to let them know that Stone Wheelers have not and will not forget their contribution to us all.


Please do it now.


Yours in cycling

Greg Dancer