CHRIS VENTRESS 1941 - 2008
February 4 2008.

It is our sad duty to report the death of Chris Ventress, on January 22nd, following a lengthy battle with MND. During what was a debilitating 7-year period Chris displayed quite exceptional fortitude - laced to a mischievous sense of humour - and pluckily refused to let the condition get the better of him!

Chris co-founded Venhill Engineering Ltd in 1970. In establishing what soon became an internationally recognised business he ensured that Venhill were regular attendees at innumerable domestic and overseas motorcycle exhibitions, and that the firm's cables and hoses, were used by a wide selection of successful competitors in trials, road racing, and motocross. It was a good strategy for by 1980 the 15-strong Dorking based company was selling to more than 30 export markets. In producing a constant flow of cutting edge products [the majority manufactured to extremely close tolerances] it was not unusual for Chris himself to create the tools from which the components emerged!

Despite a visibly quiet demeanour Chris became a popular figure in industry circles and, in the early 1980s, was willingly co-opted to the board of the Motor Cycle Industry Association, where his wise counsel guaranteed that this country's aftermarket producers and distributors would be properly represented at a national level. Typically, and closer to home, he was a much-liked participant at the Dorking Business Breakfast Group, who meet each Thursday morning, a gathering he insisted he still attend until physically unable.

Chris was born in Poole, Dorset, and attended Ringwood Grammar School. His father was a road motorcyclist - with mother riding pillion - and after undertaking some initial training for the accountancy profession he realised that balance sheets and ledgers were not his vocation; after departing the profession Chris always claimed it was almost inevitable his commercial career would ultimately be linked to the two-wheel business. It was in his twenties, whilst involved in the auto-electrics business, that he moved to Surrey.

A long time member of Reigate & Redhill North Downs Motorcycle Club he competed in trials and scrambles on a series of beautifully self-prepared machines. In contrast to that ostensibly gentle personality he built a reputation of a fearless competitor, once in the saddle, experiencing several spectacular accidents, and several broken bones - possibly as a consequence - during a lengthy and enjoyable riding career. His other great pursuit was skiing, another sport where his exuberance resulted in yet more damaged limbs. It was on a ski trip to Italy with Derek Elwell in 1989, that he met his future wife Christine, happily returning to UK in one piece on that occasion!

Chris Ventress proved to be the most wonderfully stoic patient these past few years; it must be stated that he was eternally grateful to Christine and the group of professional carers who so cheerfully attended him, inspired no doubt by his humour, coupled with a brave, philosophical outlook. In particular we should mention "my friend Kati", his reflexologist, and Vicky, who spent many hours conversing with Chris after he became housebound, together with The Brigitte Trust.

Donations may be sent to St Catherine's Hospice, c/o Sherlock & Sons Ltd, 190 South Street, Dorking, Surrey RH14 2ES. 


Obituary by Mike Jackson