Marie Armes: 19th September 1931 – 15th February 2020
Monday March 2, 2020 at 4:16pm
When Marie Bell married Colin Armes in September 1958 the thought of being involved in motorcycle sport over the next sixty years was probably the last thing on her mind. But a honeymoon on the Isle of Man at the Manx Grand Prix, when her new husband promptly signed on as a marshall, and then subsequently arranged for her to sign on as first aid, as she was a nurse by profession, should have given her a rather large clue! She left school in 1946 and began working at the local hospital before heading off to the University College Hospital in London to train as a nurse. The big city was a far cry from the rural ideal of Beccles but it not only gave Marie a sound profession it also meant she experienced many different cultures and people of varying nationalities which would stand her in good stead when she later moved into the world of organising major International motorcycle events. Marie was at Colin’s side as he competed in a variety of competitive motorcycle events and it wasn’t long before she was ‘roped in’ to helping out with the organisational side of the sport. Whether it was observing at Trials, or latterly, carrying out admin duties for the ‘Scrambles’ at Lyng in the morning, before moving across the track to lapscore the races in the afternoon. During the late sixties the couple took on the mantle of organising all the big road race events at Snetterton in Norfolk, including the Race of Aces and Transatlantic Trophy Races which were the flagship meetings of their time. This subsequently led to taking up senior positions at the Isle of Man TT Races, and the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Marie not only proved to be a very able lieutenant to Colin, but rose to be a senior official in her own right, and stepped into the breech to save the ACU’s blushes to carry out all the administration and preparation for the TT and Grand Prix when the road race secretary resigned at short notice – commuting to London on a weekly basis. Her nursing background once more came to the fore when she became the welfare officer at the TT races, providing support to families and pit crews when their rider had been involved in a serious accident; and on other occasions she travelled abroad to escort injured British riders back to the UK. However, she was never one to make a fuss about this aspect of her activities, including the fact that she was acknowledged as the person whose prompt action saved the life of Barry Sheene when he had his major accident at Silverstone in 1982. At no time, either then or since, did she admit to playing such a major part in helping Barry, and it was only in 2007 that her actions were fully recognised in the book ‘Barry’ written by Nick Harris and Steve Parrish. Despite working at the very top of motorcycle organisation in the UK, and beyond, Marie never lost touch with the grass roots of the sport. She was a Vice President and Honorary Life Member of the Eastern Centre of the ACU and continued to carry out a number of administration activities; whether it was processing permit applications for local events, taking an active part in the running of the Centre, or helping with the ‘signing on’ of riders at motocross meetings. Nothing was too trivial, and if something needed doing, then she would do it – there is no doubt that she will be missed by many, and leaves an awfully big pair of footprints to follow in.