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David Cretney - nothing compares to your first Parish Walk finish

When a politician tells you that the experience of finishing the Parish Walk is the best thing that he has ever achieved in sport you should believe him. After all David Cretney has something to compare it with. In addition to being the fastest of several members of Tynwald to walk the 85 mile Parish Walk course he is the only member of the legislature to have completed a lap of the TT course in the Manx Grand Prix at more than one hundred miles per hour.

It was former President of Tynwald, Noel Cringle, who has managed to persuade the Governor, the Bishop and the Clerk of Tynwald to enter before they have realised what they have let themselves in for, who twisted David's arm to enter in 1999. He can't remember much about his debut, other than thinking he should have prepared better, but unlike Noel's other "signings" he did return, eight times before this year and with three finishes to his name.

Tynwald Day 2014 with fellow South Douglas MHK Kate Beecroft

David was first elected to represent South Douglas in the House of Keys in 1985. After announcing his decision not to seek re-election at the next general election in 2016, he was nominated for a vacant seat in the Legislative Council in which he was successful last month.

The Manx political structure has a tri-cameral system.  24 members of the House of Keys (MHKs) are elected by the citizens of the Isle of Man and the Legislative Council (the “upper house”) consists of the President of Tynwald, the Lord Bishop of Sodor and of Man, Her Majesty's Attorney General and eight members elected by the House of Keys (MLCs). The House of Keys and the Legislative Council meet collectively as Tynwald. Tynwald Day, the Manx National day on 5 July, features an open air sitting of Tynwald which is now largely pageantry but was historically when the population would learn of laws passed during the previous twelve months.

Tynwald chooses a chief minister who then forms a government with eight ministers at its head. Only chief minister Allan Bell has been a member of Tynwald longer than David Cretney who held office as Minister for Tourism from 1996 to 2006 and where the other responsibilities within the department led to him being nicknamed the Minister of Fun! He later served as Minister for Industry, then the renamed Community, Culture and Leisure and finally Infrastructure.

The table below, of known performances by Tynwald members since 1960, shows that David is the fastest MHK to walk the 85 course and that he needs to beat Dudley Butt's time of 20:19:28 to be the fastest MLC - let's hope he doesn't challenge Dudley for the worst blisters by an MLC!

Surname Forename Church Time Year
Anderson David M Patrick

07:07:00

2006

Butt Dudley German

07:41:40

2000

Butt Dudley German

07:31:33

2001

Butt Dudley Finish

21:37:37

2002

Butt Dudley Finish

22:05:52

2003

Butt Dudley Finish

21:29:00

2004

Butt Dudley Finish

20:19:28

2006

Butt Dudley Finish

20:58:37

2007

Butt Dudley Rushen

04:11:36

2008

Butt Dudley German

07:42:25

2010

Butt Dudley Lezayre

15:13:54

2011

Butt Dudley Jurby

10:58:45

2012

Butt Dudley German

07:31:59

2013

Butt Dudley Andreas

 14:06:11

2014

Cannan Alf German

07:44:47

2005

Cretney David German

07:33:30

1999

Cretney David German

07:33:38

2001

Cretney David Lezayre

15:45:00

2005

Cretney David Finish

20:08:01

2006

Cretney David Finish

21:23:55

2007

Cretney David Jurby

10:26:05

2008

Cretney David Finish

19:01:54

2009

Cretney David German

07:00:48

2013

Cretney David German

 07:33:08

2014

Cringle Noel German

07:45:00

1979

Cringle Noel Michael

08:02:00

1980

Cringle Noel Michael

08:06:00

1981

Cringle Noel German

06:34:01

1982

Cringle Noel Rushen

03:46:00

1983

Cringle Noel German

07:18:04

1993

Cringle Noel St Johns

07:00:51

1994

Cringle Noel German

07:00:13

1995

Cringle Noel Rushen

03:50:00

1996

Cringle Noel German

07:20:45

1998

Cringle Noel German

07:08:56

1999

Cringle Noel German

07:28:56

2000

Cringle Noel German

07:57:58

2001

Cringle Noel German

07:26:53

2002

Cringle Noel German

07:38:32

2003

Cringle Noel German

07:49:40

2004

Cringle Noel Rushen

04:14:00

2006

Cringle Noel Rushen

04:19:44

2007

Cringle Noel Rushen

04:44:44

2008

Cringle Noel German

08:11:14

2009

Cringle Noel Rushen

04:34:48

2010

Cringle Noel Arbory

03:47:25

2011

Crookall Tim German

07:10:26

2003

Crookall Tim German

07:20:51

2007

Crookall Tim German

08:51:55

2008

Crookall Tim German

07:23:12

2009

Crookall Tim German

07:24:43

2010

Crookall Tim German

07:30:16

2011

Crookall Tim German

07:34:06

2012

Crookall Tim Ballaugh

09:40:05

2013

Crookall Tim Lezayre

 16:37:16

2014

Earnshaw Adrian German

08:16:17

1991

Earnshaw Adrian German

07:34:48

1993

Earnshaw Adrian St Johns

07:29:40

1994

Earnshaw Adrian German

07:04:13

1996

Earnshaw Adrian Rushen

03:58:00

1997

Earnshaw Adrian German

07:25:25

1998

Earnshaw Adrian German

06:52:05

1999

Earnshaw Adrian Bride

13:25:00

2000

Earnshaw Adrian German

08:06:15

2001

Earnshaw Adrian German

07:59:14

2006

Hall Zac German

07:56:12

2007

Skelly Laurence Rushen

 05:34:57

2014

Teare Eddie Rushen

04:46:00

1998

Teare Eddie German

08:34:36

1999

Teare Eddie German

08:24:30

2002

Walker Miles Rushen

04:43:15

2009

Walker Miles Rushen

04:47:56

2010

Dudley Butt's 2002 blisters

It was long serving official Brenda Charlton who gave David the belief, after he retired at Lezayre on his third attempt, that "all people who get this far (61.5 miles) finish the year after". The statistics do not entirely support Brenda but as a motivational tool it worked.

It was his motivation to protect the residents of Douglas from the effects of the Isle of Man's development which first drew David into politics. He served on Douglas Corporation between 1983 and 1985 before his election as an MHK after fighting plans by French Keir (now Keir Group plc), the civil engineering company engaged by the government to build the Douglas breakwater extension, to run lorries from their concrete works at Port Soderick 24 hours a day. He lived at Leigh Terrace (Old Castletown Road just south of its junction with quay) and also objected to plans to build an incinerator in Douglas. He succeeded in limiting the lorries to 12 hours a day and years later the incinerator, with much improved safety standards, was sited out of town.

The Douglas breakwater extension can be seen in 2014 in front of the 1862 version

David was brought up in Laurel Dene in Tennis Road, a stone's through (if you have a strong arm!) from the writer's house. Laurel Dene was only about 50 yards from the childhood home of another government minister, John Shimmin.

Laurel Dene on Tennis Road, Douglas in April 2015

He attended the Collegiate School at Mount Bradda before moving to Murray's Road School. His secondary school education was at Douglas High School for Boys which meant two years on the Ballakermeen site (Douglas High School for Girls had their junior section alongside) and the remainder at St Ninians.

The former Collegiate School in Douglas in April 2015

He enjoyed cross country running at school and represented Douglas in the inter-schools in the days when everyone seemed to be called Robbie - when asked which rivals he could remember he named Robbie Callister, Robbie Lambie and Robbie Corkish!

David worked in a souvenir shop in Walpole Avenue before more after school work at Liptons (later named Safeway) on Prospect Terrace. He joined the Co-op not for any deep ethical conviction but because the manager, the late Frank Hampson, offered him a  25% wage increase from 2 shillings to 2 shillings and sixpence (half a crown) an hour!

He also worked briefly at Savewell in Derby Square, the island's first discount store, at about the same time as the original Shoprite opened in the old Cunninghams holiday camp in Victoria Road, opposite the current Shoprite, where customers purchased items straight from cardboard boxes.

He became manager of Moochers Market when established in Wellington Street by the late Michael Hooper and his wife Vivienne and Hector Gedall.  

18 January 1985 is a date David will never forget as not only was it the day he took over Moochers, after Mike and Viv split up, but the day his elder daughter Sarah was born!

It was whilst working for the Hoopers that he also met his wife Dee at the disco they set up in the former waxworks where David became the DJ. David and Dee celebrate their 35th anniversary this year. Sarah and Richard Maltby made them grandparents why Ivy arrived and a second child is due later this year. Their other daughter Julie is a Parish Walk competitor.

Moochers moved to Strand Street and a second shop, Supercards was opened. They remained in family ownership until closure, at the end of each lease, in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Supercards was a long term sponsor of Manx Fell Runners' St Johns Fell Race on New Year's day and David has continued to sponsor the event personally since the closure of the business.

David had been brought up with shop-keeping in his blood. His father and grandfather established the family business at 30 North Quay in Douglas. His father Clifford ran RW Cretney and Sons until his retirement in 1964 just before the arrival of the supermarkets. Clifford’s brother Eric and sister Muriel also worked in the shop and they supplied many of the Steam Packet cooks, fishing boats, hotels and guest houses at the height of the tourist industry.

One part of his working life not mentioned above is one that I broached delicately as I had heard reports that he was always late for work. It was true. "I loved working as a postman but I just couldn't get up early in the morning." Years later he became Chairman of the Isle of Man Post Office!

A guest appearance as a postman in the postal worker's walking race, Marine Drive 2014

There was no hesitation when I asked David to name his Parish Walk hero. John Cannell, the six times winner, who was a colleague during David's short time as a postman, not least because of the way John has achieved his successes, which include walking 100 miles in 17 hours and 10 minutes, after various health issues.

11 wins in total - Robbie Callister and John Cannell at JC's 60th birthday. He is 70 this year.

David has great respect for all of the other Parish Walkers too, as he does for athletes of other disciplines. In 1970 he went to watch the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh as a spectator and in 2002 he was proud to be at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games representing the Isle of Man Government.

In his younger days he was a member of Manx Athletic Club, which merged with Boundary Harriers to form Manx Harriers in 1991, and he contested the hill races in the winter and ran in the Peel to Douglas races. He made a single off-island trip to compete for the club at Warrington. When asked why he did not maintain his interest his blunt reply was: "Because I wasn't good enough!". He returned to running to complete the London Marathon on 2001 raising funds for the Leonard Cheshire charity.

He made a single attempt to run the TT 40, the slightly extended run around the TT Course which used to start and finish on Douglas Promenade. Peter McElroy used to organise the TT 40 and also used to write the Chit-Chat column for various Manx newspapers. David found Peter Mac's references to him in his column a great source of encouragement.

His run around the TT course ended at Ramsey unlike his many laps on motor cycles in the Manx Grand Prix. He raced between 1975 and 1998 but called it a day after his 100 mph lap. He also raced in the Southern 100 and at Jurby and makes occasional appearances in parade laps.

David has remained a member of the Manx Labour Party throughout his political career despite the very limited role that party membership plays in Tynwald. His uncle, Ron Cretney, was a commissioner in Onchan before his election as an MHK in the 1988 bye-election. His politic career was short but dynamic. He was Minister for Education within two years but stood down as MHK the year after. Several of his uncles were head teachers and Godfrey Cretney, the first head of Castle Rushen High School, was knighted by Sir Harold Wilson for his services to education.

Can David teach other walkers anything about how to prepare for the Manx Telecom Parish Walk? His advice does not differ greatly from what has been said so many times before. Do plenty of training, make sure you are used to your shoes before the event and prepare yourself mentally for the challenge of walking when your body wants to stop. His description of the thrill of reaching the final miles when you know you are not going to stop would motivate even the biggest doubters.

David is a fan of contemporary music and a wide interest he has. Although officially retired from his part time work as a DJ he comes out of retirement for the Cave reunion at Christmas and makes occasional appearances at private parties. The day after the conclusion of this feature he and the writer will both be at the same Paul Simon and Sting concert in Birmingham but James Taylor and Joni Mitchell are well up his appreciation list. in 2014 he achieved a long term ambition to get the former's autograph at one of several concerts he has been to while the latter he described as the person he had not seen that he would most like to, unlikely as it is given her current health.

Private party engagement in 2013

Although not as serious, it is own health that causes doubts as to whether David can finish in 2015. He has been diabetic for a couple of years and the insulin has some side effects with his stomach.

David Cretney is a very principled politician who is best known for responding to telephone calls, emails and texts at all hours of the day. Despite serving as a minister he had no agenda to reach the top but he reached heights no others have reached - his name is engraved at the summit of Snaefell. But remember the summit of his sporting achievements was a finish in the Parish Walk. Will you reach the summit with him in June?

David Cretney - no Manx politician will be remembered at a greater height

 

Dave's Parish Walk album

With the masses at Braddan in 2005

4 miles gone 81 to go at Glen Lough in 2007

Approaching Patrick with a Jurby finish ahead in 2008

With John Callow before Newtown in 2009

On Sloc en route to Peel in 2013

About to retire at Peel in 2014

Dave's Parish Walk statistics

Church Time Year
German 07:33:30 1999
German 07:33:38 2001
Lezayre 15:45:00 2005
Finish 20:08:01 2006
Finish 21:23:55 2007
Jurby 10:26:05 2008
Finish 19:01:54 2009
German 07:00:48 2013
German 07:33:08 2014

Words by Murray Lambden, 11 May 2015


Photos by Murray Lambden, Mike Lambden, Neil Wilson, Richard Jamieson & Ben Lambden. Stats by Murray Lambden
 

 

 

Previous features

Michael Bonney

Michael George

Sue Biggart

Mo & Simon Cox

Marie Gilbertson and Samantha Draper

Vinny Lynch

John Cannell

Chris Cale

Bernie Ball

Roger Black

Tony Kneale

Dave Fereday

Malcolm Newton

Edmund Shillabeer

Irene Taggart

Caroline Cain

Dave Mackey

Gordon Corran

Anne Oates

Michael Gray

David Collister

Mick Holgate

Jock Waddington

Andrew Titley

The Chambers family

Stella and Roy Corlett

Eammon Harkin

 

 

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