National Hedgelaying Society

December 2007 Newsletter

December 2007 Newsletter

Tributes to Bert Clark 1925 - 2007

It was sad to announce at the Championship prize giving, that Bert had passed away on 21st October, having been of ill health these last months.

Bert was the top hedge Cutter of his day, a legend in his own lifetime, eleven times Supreme National Champion, and it must be remembered that there was no National for nine years between 1969 and 1979. He in fact only competed in the National nineteen times and won supreme eleven times, what an achievement, as well as winning 158 competitions, achieving 100% points on two occasions. And please remember he only had a 7lb axe and a bill hook.

A most charming, modest man, a true countryman, he loved his hunting with the Atherstone and Point to Pointing in the Spring. His favourite course was Garthorpe and Dingley. Bert was given huge support from Christine and his children, Ian and Marilyn, he was a true family man, a very accomplished gardener, showing flowers and judging them during the summer.

When I used to pick Bert up to go to far away competitions, I'll never forget leaving his house, he'd say to Chris, “see you later pet”, I can hear him saying it now, and at a competition, meeting perhaps someone he didn't know “How are you Surry”.

For those willing to learn, he'd always pass on his valuable knowledge, of which you'd never forget. Bert was the Michael Schumacher, Lester Piggott, the Tony McCoy of hedge laying, a meticulous genius, which made it very difficult for Tony Carter, Roy, Gerald, John senior and John junior Hawkins, Les Dickinson and many others to beat him.

I was lucky to have known Bert and to have seen him cut. I'll never forget him.

Thank you for all the help you gave me.

As you have heard from our Chairman, hedge laying has lost one of the greatest competitors of all time.

I first heard the name Bert Clark around 1950-51. Being in the juniors in those days I thought I knew all about laying, until I went to look at the big boys, and then you knew how much you had to learn.

Bert began to raise the standard of work, he was a perfectionist which his finished work showed, you could pick that row of stakes and binders out from afar, Bert could swing an axe against the best which showed in his cutting, the days before chainsaws. As the years passed we tried to reach his standards and eventually a few (a very few) of us managed to get that red card and we were so proud to think you had beaten No 1. You not only had No 1 to beat he also had three brothers who had picked his skills up and all became top cutters.

I can remember the youngest walking around competitions, when he got to big brother he would have a walking stick as big as himself and when he moved on that stick would stay, the same would happen later on, (you know what the stick was for!)

The rest of us didn't have brothers I think Roy Hawkins summed it up when I rang him with the news, he said, I quote, “Ah if Bert Clark hadn't been around a lot of us would have had more firsts than seconds”.

Thanks for the memories Bert, Cheerio