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David Pipe: “An essential part of the PR man’s job is that you have to be at the front and he did that, even if it wasn’t always easy.”
David Pipe, who was the Jockey Club’s “steadfast” public face during one of its most tumultuous decades, has died at the age of 86.
Colleagues paid tribute to a man who served as director of public affairs for 10 years, beginning in 1987, and commended his willingness to face the media even in the most difficult of times.
The Jockey Club was the governing body of racing in this pre-BHB and BHA era, and Pipe was at the forefront at the time of the null and void Grand National, the bomb scare-delayed National and the Needle Man doping case.
Christopher Foster, then managing director of the Jockey Club, said: “He was unflappable. Crises of one kind or another were regulator territory – things happen and need to be dealt with.
“An essential part of the PR man’s job is that you have to be forward-looking, and he did that, even if it wasn’t always easy.”
Foster added: “He was an extremely nice man, everyone got on with him. We were very lucky to have him with us for ten years. He was a very kind, thoughtful man.”
Pipe graduated from Sandhurst and spent most of his Army career with the Third Hussars (later merged with the Queen’s Hussars) apart from commanding a battalion of the Ulster Defense Regiment in Northern Ireland for two years and then in PR for NATOs SHAPE in Belgium worked.
He was succeeded by John Maxse who said: “He was a game changer from the Jockey Club’s point of view.
“I worked under him for four or five years and was very fortunate to inherit the relationship he developed between the Jockey Club and the media. He’s done a lot to improve his accessibility and break down any reluctance.
“He taught me that you should always be available and answer the calls when you can. He was ready to stand up and be counted and be a figurehead. I was very fortunate to learn from him about being available and that ‘no comment’ wasn’t really an option. He was also incredibly kind with a dry sense of humor and a big laugh.”
Even Pipe couldn’t avoid the occasional negative comment in the media, but Maxse recalled, “His ability to forgive the likes of Claude Duval and Colin Mackenzie for some of the horrible things they wrote about the Jockey Club was amazing.
“Much would have been annoying to read, but he was tall enough and intelligent enough to realize that holding a grudge against something they had written was short-sighted. Others still hold grudges to this day and that is not a constructive way forward.”
A thanksgiving service will be held at 2.30pm on Thursday 7 July at St John the Baptist Church, Windlesham, Surrey, GU20 6BL.
FIRST RELEASE ON JUNE 11, 2022 AT 1:25 PM