Over 100 attended St Edmund’s Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds yesterday to celebrate the life of former Chairman of Stratford, Nick Lees, who died in December. There was a strong representation from the world of horseracing, which Nick had filled for well over half his life.
Fellow racecourse directors, both from racecourses where Nick had been directly involved, and from further afield, assembled in strength in the C13th cathedral, whose tower was only completed in 2005. Former Newmarket impressarios Stephen Wallis and Chris Kennedy were joined by current Clerk of Course Michael Prosser, whilst Stratford directors Stephen Lambert, George Lee and Michael Rowe also attended, with current MD Ilona Barnett, and former Clerk of Course John Ford.
Nick’s lifelong connection with Leicester Racecourse, where he first entered racecourse management by dint of an involvement with the Leicester Bloodstock Sales as an auctioneer, was a constant throughout his professional career, and former manager David Henson and current non-executive director James Sanderson also attended. John Sanderson, architect of International Racecourse Management which still oversees tracks in Yorkshire, also attended, remembering a time when major racecourses collaborated together to sell their TV rights after the (first) withdrawal of ITV from racing in the ’80s.
Godson Ben Turner gave the eulogy, in which family, horses, the Army, racing and good humour were never far away. It was a fitting end to a man wedded both to racing, and to family life.