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Speedway star goes back to the classroom

PUBLISHED: 20:22 22 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:13 03 March 2010

WITCHES legend, Jeremy Doncaster, has lit up the speedway track… and now he's putting the sparkle into other circuits.

The sporting hero has shown life really does begin at 40 by moving into top gear and turning his career in another direction.

WITCHES legend, Jeremy Doncaster, has lit up the speedway track… and now he's putting the sparkle into other circuits.

The sporting hero has shown life really does begin at 40 by moving into top gear and turning his career in another direction.

He went back to school – literally – and joined a class full of pupils, some less than half his age, to become a qualified electrician.

But he has no plans to hang up his leathers yet and is as keen as ever to continue on the speedway track.

"Eventually I will have to give up speedway," he said, "but I have got a few good seasons left in me. I am certainly fit enough. But you are only really as good as your last race."

Not one to do things by halves, he went straight into action and studied hard scooping this year's President's Prize – the top annual award from the Ipswich and District Electrical Association (IDEA).

So why did he decide to go back to the classroom?

"This year is my 21st season in Speedway racing and I realise that most riders only get about six or seven years on average," adding it would only be a matter of time before he would have to look for another career.

Juggling so many things at one time can't have been easy.

He was studying part time, continuing with speedway and working as a subcontractor to R Daubney and Co at Wattisham Airfield.

Hard work pays off and Doncaster not only took his 2360 Part II exams three months early, but also gained distinctions in all subjects.

"The college course worked out quite well. I couldn't have done it without the guys at Suffolk College and my colleagues at work helped me. They were full of advice.

"I was also able to take my exams early (in March) before this season started. That took the pressure off a little bit," adding that he is carrying on with his speedway racing.

Before becoming a maintenance electrician at Wattisham, he was employed by Ray Pyke Optimum Controls, which is how he started in the trade.

In fact it was on Ray's advice that he decided to go to college to get his qualification as he had a natural flare for the industry. He hasn't looked back since.

"It was hard," he admits, "but I was in a similar situation to the other mature students."

His wife Pat, 48, was thrilled with her husband's achievement and it's thought that son Jens, 15, may even follow in his dad's footsteps.

Other top students presented with a prestigious award in the ceremony in Ipswich included Christian Nelson, who received an IDEA Student Award and Paul Dale, winner of the IDEA Younger Student award.

Robin Chesterman, president of IDEA, said: "As and ex-chairman of Suffolk TEC and the Manpower Services Commission I am delighted. Jeremy, who was tutored by Paul Blomfield, has demonstrated you can come from one career to another.

"Age is no limit and you can have a career change in mid life.

"There is a shortage of people in this industry with more jobs than people to fill them. There will always be a place for an electrician."

He added those studying on the course included a good mix of young and mature students.

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