OUR FEATURED MEMBER – ROGER AYLING
Thanks to Norman Burchfell for putting together this ‘life story’. Our subject this time is : Roger Ayling
Sussex has always been home to our popular captain Roger (the Dodger) Ayling.
Born in Shoreham in 1953 his early schooldays were spent at St. Wilfred’s, Angmering followed by his secondary modern education at Blessed Robert Southwell in Goring.
Leaving school at 15 he obtained the most interesting of apprenticeships by joining the Duke of Norfolk’s stables at Arundel as an apprentice jockey. He must have then cut a much leaner figure compared with the well-proportioned captain we see today! Roger speaks with much fondness of the Duke who when on his regular visits to the stables always found time for a kindly chat with his young apprentice. Roger remained at the stables for 4 years and had one professional ride – at Lingfield racecourse where he finished a highly commendable 4th behind the winning jockey Frankie Durr.
Enjoying life in the great outdoors Roger followed up his apprenticeship with several building jobs – laying kerbing, block and beam flooring, sea defences and working on building sites. He also had a spell as a nationwide van driver and erecting gravestones for Sussex Monuments around the county. Roger’s last two occupations were at The Bodyshop factory and finally Tesco. At The Bodyshop he supervised a team of 10 filling bottles and the plastic moulding of the bottle tops. His final 10 years were spent as a Customer Assistant at Tesco. When redundancies were being offered last year Roger instantly put his name forward and now enjoys his retirement. Roger has been in a long standing partnership with Diana whom he met at the Bodyshop and he has two children Dean and Rosa with his previous wife Sarah.
Roger has always enjoyed sport. He played football for Rustington in the West Sussex League and in his early years is notorious for hitting a 50 in 20 minutes in a cricket match at Brighton. He took up Lawn Bowls at age 40 and has remained at one club – Norfolk – ever since. He has been their men’s champion twice and won the handicap singles. Other achievements include twice winning both the Littlehampton and East Preston Opens. He is of course a long standing member of the WSBTC and has been a most popular captain (now enjoying his third year in that role).
Charity work has featured constantly over his lifetime. In 1992 he made the return walk from Littlehampton to the Goldstone Ground (Brighton) – some 18 miles each way raising £2600 for a defibrillator for the Littlehampton Ambulance Service. Only 3 years ago he stopped drinking alcohol for 3 months raising £1515 for the Chestnut Tree Children’s Hospital. Both excellent achievements!
A very keen supporter of Brighton and Hove Albion football club since age 13 he wears his Seagulls shirt with pride and is always worn holidays, cruises and West Sussex Tours – normally worn when seated in the noisy rear seat of the Tourist coaches it has reluctantly as Captain been replaced with a blazer as now seated with the hierarchy at the front end of the coach.
Since retirement Roger has taken on the garden upkeep of a dozen or so of his neighbours. This is a man who won’t let the grass grow under his feet !!