When Raymond Mead and his girlfriend Ann Proudfoot were told they could not get married, it was his beloved motorbike that eventually helped grant their wish.
Now, decades later, he wants to be reunited with the valued vehicle after Ann died of cancer.
The 74-year-old from Ferringham Lane, Ferring, said: “Emotionally, it would mean an awful lot, even just to see it and make sure it is being looked after; if not, I would buy it and restore it.”
In 1963, Ray, then 17, and Ann, 16, eloped to Gretna Green in Scotland, where you could get married without permission, after Ann’s mother expressed doubts.
Using the Triumph TR6 Trophy as a tent pole, Raymond and Ann slept under a plastic sheet by the side of the road on their journey – catching a police officer’s attention. He said: “They just looked at my paperwork and documents and left us. They thought it was quite entertaining.”
The young lovebirds’ disappearance hit the headlines of the Worthing Herald – but after Ann’s mother changed her mind, the couple came home and got married at St Mary’s Broadwater several months later. They took several more trips together on the bike across the country, before Ray sold it. Unfortunately, due to being the victim of a serious road collision in 2014, the retired chauffeur could not remember who he sold it to or why.
They had two children together, John and Adele, and were together for 17 years before deciding to part ways.
They both went on to be happily partnered with other people, but remained friends.
Sadly, on September 13 Ann died of cancer at her home in Littlehampton Road, Worthing, aged 73.
The great-grandfather of three said that in Ann’s final months, they talked about the bike and the memories they shared with it. “Ann said it was one of the best times of her life; she absolutely loved it,” he said.
By putting the licence plate details into the online DVLA database, Raymond discovered the bike was still taxed until May 2020 and therefore likely to still be in the country.
The avid biker reached out to fellow enthusiasts and put out a Facebook appeal, each to no success.
If you have the bike, or have any useful information, email Raymond at [email protected]