A tribute to Reg Strudley.
It was sad to hear from his long-time partner Sylvia that Reg Strudley had passed away on February 14 at the age of 79 and it was a surprise that just a few days before I had had a fifteen minutes conversation with Reg when I rang him to have a catch-up chat. This was followed by a request from John Goodwin the chairman of the Haverfordwest Model Club in West Wales, asking if I would write this tribute to “our” Reg Strudley and I readily agreed to do it.
I first met Reg Strudley in 1985 whilst commentating at the long running Bridgend Council sponsored show when he asked me to come and present the second model air show at a place called Scolton Manor that he and the members of the Haverfordwest Model Club was running. Before going there Reg explained that Scolton Manor was, and still is, a Victorian country house and country park located in Pembrokeshire, West Wales northeast of Haverfordwest and on the borders of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Built as a home, it was and is now a museum and is a Grade II listed building. The place is owned by Pembrokeshire County Council. The house, grounds and a number of exhibits are open to the public. The park is a gradual long slope and any of the many trees that over many years have been storm damaged have had their stumps carved into owls. In the park centre there is a quality wooden facilities building and everything of it was made in Wales including the excellent self-supporting generating solar panels and pole mounted wind driven electric generator. The whole place is stunningly tranquil and beautiful. Bearing Reg’s words and with that in mind as far as I was concerned that was the start of a 257 miles drive each way to present it for the next 28 years.
Reg was a self-taught engineer having started by working in the fields repairing agricultural machinery which he learned to do by experience. He was a qualified deep sea diver and for some years spent some years repairing anchor buoys. He met his partner Sylvia in 1985 when he was the manager at a Volvo garage where she was a receptionist and they started their own garage business named Phoenix Motors in 1996. I was surprised one time when Reg asked me to drive my DB Sound Transit van to his workplace where he kindly tuned up the Pinto engine so well that it ran like a ticking watch. His kind efforts on my van resulted in bags more power which were especially needed when journeying to “his” show when climbing some of the Welsh hills on the to and fro journey.
Apart from being a kind friendly hard grafter at any work, Reg told me that it needed a fortnights hard preparation work before the Scolton weekend show started to complete the necessary mowing and rolling of the flying site, crowd line fences, pilots caravan and traders parking. He was grateful for the help from some Haverfordwest’s Model Clubs members especially a young German modeller -Klaus Uehlein and Reg’s close pal and modeller – Brian Goodridge and others.
The show itself was a joy to be at and it was generally known that a weekend visit to the Scolton show was considered by the many Brits as their annual holiday. The atmosphere was always warm and great and the flight line director Klaus, always asked me to open the announcement to pilots for briefing to “start at around 10.45 ish.”
The result was that with the help of the added high quality model flyers the show was guaranteed to last for many years. The team of Steve, Matt and Luke Bishop of Weston Park gave so much help and guidance and top named show flyers including Paul Heckles, some ofr the Ripmax display team, members of the super Keith Wright of the Woodwinds Flying Circus along with plus the experienced Shane Harding. Dave Horton added to its super family entertainment. The team build an excellent boating pool and a car track both of which added to the show’s popularity. Eventually Reg persuaded a good set of traders including Chris and Collette of Nexus modelling supplies, Dave and Marion Watts of Southern Modelcraft Fuels, Cab and Dee Richardson of Paper Aviation. The SMAE/now BMFA always had a great volunteer team and display of information, Ken Henderson and the Wales Air Ambulance group plus their helicopter enhanced this super Welsh Scolton manor site. Reg along with his Haverfordwest Model Club’s team of hard workers especially Klaus Uehlein, Brian Goodridge, Derek and Nick Minchin, Bill Hardy, Albert Gaye along with their wives and partners, to name a few. Another model club member and full size pilot Ted Barnford, arranged for full size aeroplane colleagues to give demonstrations from the nearby Haverfordwest airfield during the two day show. All visiting pilots always experienced superb hospitality. Reg seemed to know everyone and with his and his friend’s hard work, the show eventually turned out to be an annual holiday place to go because the atmosphere at Scolton Manor was so relaxed and friendly. He preferred to build and fly large models and he was often seen at shows radio controlling his model Auster, Piper Cub and Nieuport and his partner Sylvia has told me that a number of aeroplanes will be disposed of by the members of the Haverfordwest Model club. Reg leaves behind his kind, helpful Sylvia and two sons – David and Mark.
I would like to thank the people for their time and help in compiling this memory of Reg Strudley with the words of Klaus Uehlein – “Reg kept the Cl