A Tribute to Ben Carlile - a little trials star - October 1998 - August 2008

 

Ben Carlile Ben Carlile managed to achieve more in his wonderful 9 years of life than most of us could aspire to do in six times that. He excelled at school and was very popular at all the clubs he was part of. No one was better than Ben, he knew he was the best and always aimed to achieve just that.

 

From the early stages in his life Ben was keen to get on two wheels. His path to bike trials came via a stint in motorcycle trials where at the age of 6 he rode for Barnsley motorcycle club on his Beta 50. He won his first trial there and although he enjoyed riding his motor bike his Monty trials bike was much lighter and easier to throw around and this is where he felt most at home.

 

His mum and dad, Samantha and Kevin, supported him on both motorised and pedal bikes and turned their back yard into a trials practise area for Ben to hone his skills on. He had free rein to move the pallets and obstacles around and design his own sections. One afternoon he took his dad round to see his new section and proudly showed him his water feature. Ben had piled a couple of pallets up and placed the garden hose between them and then turned it on to give him the perfect watery challenge.

 

His first competitive bike trial with the TykeTrial club was up at a cold and very wet Oakworth quarry where he showed his talents to all whilst practising before even attempting a section! He was riding up and down rocks most riders twice his age would struggle with and showed no fear whilst doing so. He went on to complete this trial and in true TykeTrial style the appalling weather didn't dampen his enthusiasm. The rain was heavy, the wind cold, the mud thick and many people retired because of the conditions. However, during the later stages of Ben's illness when he was mostly bed-ridden he once told his dad that he would love to be riding up at Oakworth quarry in the rain and mud that day.

 

Many successes in bike trials followed and as Ben continued to practice and improve his technique the equipment he was using needed to be upgraded. To allow him to achieve his personal record of 42 back hops he needed to upgrade the brakes on his bike to hydraulic ones. After that the tyres needed to be improved. The final touches to his steed came with a bright orange paint job on his rims to emulate his hero's machine, his hero being Dougie Lampkin, who had an orange rimmed Montessa at the time so Ben wanted the same. These modifications not only made Ben ride better but also gave him an understanding of the dynamics of his bike and just what effect changing parts of the bike would have on it's performance.

 

Ben's love of his bike and passion to ride was shown off at its best when he rode at the Bradford Bike Show alongside two more of his hero's, Chris Doney and Mark Vinco. Ben loved the atmosphere and did some of his best stunts during the show, one of which was totally unrehearsed when he dropped off a metre high platform onto a plastic cup and landed it spot on. He crushed the cup to the cheers of the crowd and proud smile of his dad.

 

One of his finest moments in his competitive trials activities was on a beautiful sunny day at Brimham Rocks where he rode to his full potential to take a fine win. But he didn't stop at the end of the trial instead he continued to practise and show the other riders in his class some of the tricks he had mastered. He rode as number 56 on that day and enjoyed every minute.

 

The Brimham trial was in June and during a couple of trials after that Ben had retired due to feeling very ill. Then one day in early November 2007, during his walk to school, his leg gave way underneath him and he was taken to his doctors who then referred him immediately to Pontefract hospital. From there he was sent to Pinderfields hospital in Wakefield where he underwent an MRI scan and was then rushed to Leeds General Infirmary to remove a lump from his spine. By the end of the following day he had gone through a nine hour operation to remove the lump from his spinal cord. This left Ben physically drained and his parents in a state of shock. Tests on the lump showed it to be cancerous and this was the start of a whole new chapter in Ben's life. As with any other obstacle put in front of Ben he tackled this new challenge with courage and determination. Once the surgery had healed he was then put through a course of radiation and Chemotherapy at Jimmys in Leeds which made him very weak.

 

During his radiation treatment Ben made the trip from Pontefract to Skipton to be guest of honour at the Easter Bunny Hop. This great event brought out all the stars, with three generations of the Lampkin family setting out the obstacles in the show, including Dougie and his son Alfie. Would you be confident of this level of trials history putting a show together for you? The star studded line up didn't stop there with trials hero Cesar Canas doing several demonstration rides ending with a battle against Ben Savage and Wayne Mahomet to see who could gap jump a stupidly big distance between two of the obstacles in the arena. Ben enjoyed himself tremendously and given half the chance would have been out there mixing it up with the best of them.

 

Soon after the Bunny hop the treatments he had been receiving started to bear fruit and he was able to walk with his crutches and started to eat solid food again. He returned to school on a part time basis and started to ride on an indoor trainer to build his strength back up.

 

It was at this time that the Barnsley Trials club put on an event to raise money for Ben which amounted to enough to buy him a holiday to Centre Parcs complete with limousine from his home to the venue.

 

The 'Starlight' group also helped one of Ben's dreams come true and he enjoyed an evening at a Def Leopard concert and went back stage after the event to meet his heroes. Again he arrived in style in a limousine put on by the tour manager and to top it all he met up with White Snake where he received a signed drum stick.

 

Kevin's work also donated some money to Ben and told him he could buy what ever he wanted. With the appalling summer of 2008 rolling on from one wet weekend to another Ben decided he wanted to buy the biggest TV screen he could for his X Box system. So armed with the cash he was whisked off to his local electrical dealers where he chose and paid for their top notch TV. His X Box kept him entertained on the rainy days and also kept him in touch with his mates who were in constant communication through the internet.

 

To get Ben out in the fresh air on the odd sunny day we did have in the summer of 2008 his dad bought him a low powered air riffle. He set a target range up made from some pieces of wood and spent hours with Ben picking off carefully selected targets which would give the most satisfying sound when hit. As the summer fizzled out Ben went back inside and continued to play on his X Box.

 

One team who had played a large role in his life were the Jig Saw team, a group of specialists who helped with and cared for Ben when he was in hospital and at home. During one hospital stay another team, Leeds United, came to visit him and following that the presenter of the Sheffield Indoor Arena Trial, Wayne Kershaw also took time out to come and see Ben, both of which he really enjoyed.

 

A surprise also arrived in the post one morning in the form of a signed helmet from Ot Pi, another of Ben's idols, which he kept in his bedroom and guarded well.

 

In mid August 2008 Ben passed away with his loving family and carers around him. There is a memorial stone outside his school which at the highest point is 22" a height Ben managed to hop up during one of his street rides with his friends. The rock is there for all to ride and as a reminder of what he achieved in his life. He also has a fitting headstone which was made by one of his friends from the pieces of wood that surrounded his air gun target range, the pellet holes are still there.

 

Ben was a courageous and popular young man who was way ahead of his years in everything he did. Even though he understood what the treatment he was receiving was about and how it could affect him, not once did he ever think he wasn't going to beat his illness. He left so much behind for all of us to remember him by and while we do that he will always be with us.

 

In the summer of 2007 Ben's first video was made on DVD, showing him to be a little trials star of the future. In November 2007 he was diagnosed with cancer, and very sadly passed away on August 17th 2008 at just 9 years old.

 

With his parents permission, we have reproduced that video so that everyone can watch it as an inspiration to us all.

 

Download Ben's video here

 

Rest in peace Ben and thank you for your inspiration.