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An Olympic cyclist and his wife, an accomplished ballroom dancer, have moved into a new luxury retirement living development in Southport.
John and Jean Geddes met at a cycling dance in 1959, three years after John had brought home a bronze medal for Team GB at the Summer Olympics. Jean, a member of the Billy Martin dance team, forgave John his ‘two left feet’ and the couple married in 1962. Having lived in their family home for 46 years, they recently decided to move to The Sailings, on Alexandra Road in Southport.
John Geddes, said: “We were living in a massive five bedroom, two bathroom house and it was just getting too much for Jean. I couldn’t do much and she was doing all the work.
“It’s better for both of us here. I can go cycling. Jean can walk to the shops, use her bike and go for a ride if she wants to, go to Knit and Natter every fortnight, and there are plenty of people here who she can talk to. We’ve made friends already and I can tell they’re going to be like a second family. We should have moved years ago.”
John Geddes represented Great Britain in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. He won a bronze medal in the Men’s Team Pursuit cycling event with teammates Tom Simpson, Donald Burgess and Mike Gambrill.
John recalls: “I only started cycling when I was 15 and a half. I met a chap who put me into a club and when I was a junior, riding on the Bootle track in Merseyside, Eddie Soens came up to me and said ‘how would you like to go to the Olympics?’ and it started from there. When I was 19 I got picked for the Olympics and I rode there when I was 20.”
In 1957 he went into the army for two years’ national service and in 1958 he represented England in the Empire Games (now the Commonwealth Games).
“When we met, Jean was dancing, and I was cycling in England. In 1959 I went to France to be a professional and was there until September. It wasn’t like it is these days. I went out there with £100 and I came home still with £100 and I’d lived for eight months, so they covered my living costs.”
Jean added: “They didn’t get many handouts. When he started cycling I think he got free meat from the butchers in 1956.”
John said: “My bike parts were from Harry Quinn. He was a big bicycle dealer in Liverpool and he provided all the bikes. Eventually in the year that I was finishing cycling, I went to ride for Harry Quinn.”
John, 83, and Jean, 78, are looking forward to getting back on their bikes soon. Jean said: “When the weather gets better we’ll go out on our bikes together. In the meantime I go swimming and go to Chi Ball – it’s T’ai Chi with a bit of Pilates and a bit of Yoga – and we’re going to get a pilates class here at The Sailings soon too.”