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Grev de Lecq: weekend hill-climb doubtful after race official maimed by geese

Grev de Lecq: weekend hill-climb doubtful after race official maimed by geese

Celebrated annual event in jeopardy after father-of-three hospitalised in ‘sustained and merciless attack’ 

Grev de Lecq is today asking questions of itself: as a village, and as a community, after full-time caregiver and volunteer race marshal, Ian Featherstone, was attacked by geese this morning as he went about affixing barrier tape and pointy yellow flags to T-junctions and sticky-out bits of gorse, lining the route of Saturday's upcoming hill-climb.

Mr Featherstone was set upon by as many as fourteen geese, believed to have been fugitives from the recent state-sanctioned cull, as he sought to delineate the course boundaries; and was left with eleven broken ribs, neck abrasions, a bruised scrotum and a swollen-lip.  

A photograph of one of the assailants, inadvertently captured by Mr Featherstone as he attempted to telephone for help

A photograph of one of the assailants, inadvertently captured by Mr Featherstone as he attempted to telephone for help

As news of the incident filtered through the island, we spoke with Edward Moncleur, president of the Jersey Motorcycle and Light Car Club.

‘We wish Ian all the very best’ Mr Moncleur said ‘and for a speedy recovery.  Anyone who has ever been involved with hill climbing, or motorsport, or time-trials, or soapbox racing, or car boot sales in Jersey will know Ian.  ‘‘Inexhaustable’’, ‘‘never afraid to get his hands into everything’’, ''always there when you turn around’’, and ‘‘quite a tall chap’’, are just a few of things I’ve been hearing people say about him since all this unfolded.’  ‘And he was certainly all of those things.’’

''Was''?  We ask.  We gently remind Mr Moncleur that Mr Featherstone was in fact still alive.  

‘Well there you go then!’ he shouted.  ‘And that nobody had even asked Ian to be on the course, and that it wasn’t in fact necessary for anybody to doing what he was doing, only pays testimony to his unwavering commitment to whatever it was he believed he was carrying out - and to the type of nature that he had.’  

We leave Mr Moncleur at Colleen's and take a stroll through the village, in an attempt to better get a feel for the emotional whereabouts of the inhabitants in the wake of the tragedy.  

We eventually decamp at the Moulin de Lecq, where we enquire with drinkers as to whether anything similar had happened before. 

‘It’s like we’re always telling folk:’ explains pub regular and crab fisherman Bob Le Geyt ‘Don’t go strayin’ from the path.'  'Folk ‘round here have come and gone, and have been snooping around these parts when they’ve been far better off heading-on elsewhere.’  ‘Don’t stray from the path’ he repeats, wiping with his sleeve the spittle and sardine remnants from his mouth corners, and tugging downward with his free hand at the crutch of his seal-skin trousers.  ‘There’s no place for these town people ‘round these parts’ he says.  ‘Not ‘round here.’  

Moulin de Lecq regulars (from the left) Neil A’Court, Len Wallace and Gerry Le Cornu

Moulin de Lecq regulars (from the left) Neil A’Court, Len Wallace and Gerry Le Cornu

Mr Le Geyt continued: ‘We told them folk that went and moved in to the old Tropical Gardens’ he said, 'Told them it all, we did...'  '....then that little girl went and disappeared.'  'There’s darkness in them woods.’  '...And I ‘aint just talking about all the bags of dog shit hanging from the bushes and trees neither.’  Mr Le Geyt drank noisily from his tankard and focused in on us.   'There's a devilish cloud coming in over the Paternosters' he whispered, 'and you lot had best be on your way.'    

There will be refreshments and a raffle at the hill-climb, courtesy of St Mary's school, if it does all go ahead.

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