NORTH Antrim MP Ian Paisley has paid tribute to Mervyn Whyte MBE who is stepping down from his role as Event Director at the North West 200.
In a statement to ‘Ballymena Daily’ Mr Paisley said: “As MP for North Antrim and in my capacity as Chairman of the NI Motorsport Taskforce I wish to thank Mervyn Whyte MBE for his service to the North West 200 and Coleraine and District Motor Club.
“Mervyn’s decision to retire from this most senior and stressful role provides an opportunity for everyone to reflect on his 50 years of active participation and 20 years in a senior role within biking. He is the doyen of the sport.
“He is retiring from the sport after many years of highs and many challenges. He is regarded as the most significant voice of motorcycle sport, a towering authority on biking and the man who has brought it to a pinnacle.
“I am delighted he will continue to give his support and advice and guidance to the club and the participants. I wish him a very long and happy retirement,” said Mr Paisley.
Mervyn Whyte said: “I had intended to retire at the end of 2019 but Coleraine and District Motor Club asked me to stay on for another season which I agreed to do.
“Sadly the Coronavirus outbreak saw the cancellation of this year’s event and I now feel, having recently celebrated my 70th birthday, that it is the right time for me to step aside.”
The Limavady man’s involvement with the North West 200 began in 1973 when he volunteered as a marshal and progressed through various posts including Race Secretary and Clerk of the Course.
He became Event Director ahead of the 2001 meeting, receiving a MBE for his services to motorcycling in 2009 and the Freedom of the Borough in 2017 from Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the North West 200,” Mr Whyte said.
He added: “There have been so many exciting days as well as some sad ones. Along the way I have had the pleasure of working with a very committed and enthusiastic club, staff, a great management team and many fantastic sponsors, teams and riders.
“To ensure the smooth transition of responsibilities, I will continue to provide support with regard to sponsors, teams and riders in a consultative role.”
Club Chairman John Bolton said: “Mervyn has given almost 50 years service to the North West 200 and has provided superb leadership over the past two decades as Event Director.
“The Coleraine and District Motor Club and Northern Ireland motorcycle sport as a whole owes him enormous gratitude for all of his efforts and we wish Mervyn well for the future as the club committee begins the process of finding a new Event Director.”
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