1,000-1 moon landing bet success

David Threlfall was not what you would call a betting man.

With no interest in the horses, the first time the science fiction fan placed a wager was to change his life forever.

In March 1964 he wrote to bookmaker William Hill with an unusual request: "I'd like to bet 10 that a man will set foot on the surface of the moon before the first of January 1970."

The Hill's representative, who has understandably remained anonymous ever since, offered the seemingly certifiable Mr Threlfall odds of 1,000-1.

The price was settled upon after discussion as Hill's executive Pat Reekie explained at the time of the lunar landings.

The bookie said: "I reckoned the true odds were more like three to one against but to have offered this would have been absurd. We wouldn't have got any more bets."

The terms of the bet were struck on, "... a man, woman or child from any nation on Earth being on the Moon or any other planet, star or heavenly body of comparable distance from the Earth before January 1971."

Then at 10.30am on April 10, 1964, the bet was placed. News of the wager spread around the world and others put their money down as the odds tumbled.

As the space race continued through the 1960s, David was inundated with offers from punters offering to buy his betting slip off him for thousands of pounds.

But he stood firm and so it was that at a precise moment in the summer of 1969, when Neil Armstrong took his giant step for mankind, William Hill's profit margins took a giant leap backwards.

David, who lived in Connaught Road, Preston, was at television studios in London to be presented with his cheque for 10,000 – the equivalent of 127,600 these days – live on ITV's special Man on the Moon as Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.

With unerring logic, David, who was 26-years-old at the time, explained why he had placed the amazing bet.

He said: "In 1963 I heard President Kennedy make a speech in which he said there would be an American on the moon by the end of the decade.

"I thought if a bookmaker was prepared to offer reasonable odds it would be a common sense bet."

His cousin John Threlfall, 51, lives in Chorley and, along with his brother, is now David's closest living relative.

He remembers David coming round to see him in an E-Type Jaguar, bought with the winnings, and handing his brother and himself 10 each.

For the full feature, see Thursday's Lancashire Evening Post.

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