Kevin Burnett (1939-2024)

Kevin Burnett, a long-standing member and former VAC President, passed away in May 2024 at the age of 84. He had been active in sport from the age of 11, mostly playing football and cricket. In the 1980s, he turned to running and joined Striders of Croydon (then known as Philips City Striders) in 1987 and VAC in 1988. He loved to compete and at first focussed on road races and fun runs in his local area of East Surrey, as well as being a regular at VAC’s Battersea Park races. He tried all distances, content to compete without seeking glory. He was proud of his 10-mile PB of 81:50, but times were not his prime motivation. He was always on the lookout for competitive opportunities and challenges. In 1988, he entered the Surrey Cross Country championships at a time when the race was dominated by classy club teams. He was not deterred and went on to compete at many cross countries, including VAC’s races on Wimbledon Common.

In the 1990s, he expanded his range of interests to embrace track and field events. He discovered he was suited to sprinting and throwing. Before long he was proficient at the shot put, discus, hammer, javelin and weight throws, sometimes doing them all at a single meeting. In 1996 he won six medals (two gold and four silver) in the Surrey Masters T&F Championships and continued to be a medallist in these championships for the next 25 years. He joined other clubs so that he could compete in new leagues. Holland Sports AC gave him access to the Southern Athletics League (SAL). Hercules Wimbledon allowed competition in the Rosenheim League. He also taught himself to race-walk and turned successfully to this discipline on the track and in VAC’s Battersea Park road series. He added the Surrey Walking Club to his array of clubs, genuinely supporting them all.

As a prolific competitor he notched up over 1100 performances on his Power of 10 profile. This included 602 parkruns beginning in the early days of the parkrun movement at Banstead Woods in 2007 and recording his 600th at Swanley in 2023.

Those who knew Kevin will remember him as a kind and modest person, always willing to chat, gently drawing on an encyclopaedic memory of his own exploits as well as being genuinely interested in those of others. After his funeral, his athletics record book, going back forty years, was on display. Kevin had meticulously recorded every event, focussing on the occasion, rather than his own statistics. As an example, after competing for Holland Sports in an SAL fixture in Exeter in July 1993, he wrote that it was a hot day, the small team of four did well but came last and that “I did eight events”. 6-07-24

Ken Livermore (1932-2024)  


Ken Livermore, a dedicated race walker, died in January 2024, aged 91. He had been a continuous member of VAC for 36 years, joining in 1987. As a young man, Ken established himself as a runner on the North London athletics scene.  He joined Woodford Green AC, then moved on to the club now known as Enfield and Haringey AC. He became a race walker but also enjoyed orienteering and long-distance walking. One of his great achievements was becoming Centurion #386 in the 1966 Leicester-to-Skegness 100 miles' walk, clocking a very impressive 21:07.41. 

In competition, he took part in club, county, national and international events on the track and road at all walks’ distances from 2K to 20K. He was a regular at VAC’s and BMAF’s events as well as travelling abroad to European and World Masters championships. He was also a great supporter of the Enfield Walking League. He put back into sport by acting as a recorder on 24-hour races over 100 miles and being a long serving Walking Secretary for the Hertfordshire County Athletic Association. 5-07-24

Jeremy Hemming 1932 – 2022

VAC was very sad to learn that Jeremy Hemming died on 28 July 2022, aged 89. He joined Vets AC in 1981 and had been one of its outstanding officers during a period of three decades. For over twenty years, he wrote and produced VAC’s newsletters, packed with news, interviews, reports, results and statistics. Four were issued each year and over eighty paper editions exist. They form a priceless archive of VAC’s history and culture. They also show-case Jeremy’s flair with words and his understanding of the athletics’ disciplines and extensive knowledge of the Masters athletes on the scene at the time.

Jeremy will also be remembered as a talented sports’ photographer and for his presence at every VAC event to capture the moments. His photos grace the results’ pages of VAC’s website going back to 2005, bringing to life the prowess of Masters’ athletes and capturing the performances of many VAC members. As a dedicated Committee member, Jeremy also took on many other roles such as record keeping, event administration, fixture planning and publicity.

Born in India, Jeremy was educated at Wellington College, Berkshire, where a talent for running would secure him a place in one of the school’s rugby teams. He served in the army, becoming a captain in the Royal Horse Artillery. He aspired to become a jockey and once raced at Sandown Park but accepted that he was too heavy and could not make the weight without health risks. Instead, he took up point to point racing and flourished as a polo player in the army’s teams. After the army, he worked in the insurance and publishing sectors and as a proof-reader for the National Audit Office at a time when vast volumes of paper reports were produced and there were no electronic spell-checkers. 

Jeremy enjoyed running to keep fit during and after his army career but did not compete until the 1980s when he was caught up in the running boom and introduced to Veterans AC by Sylvester Stein, the pioneering editor of “Running” magazine. He tried cross country and did some road running but his sprint speed was wasted until he settled on the 400m as his natural event. By training hard and taking advice from fellow veterans, he achieved a PB of a respectable 65.9 seconds.

VAC will always be grateful to Jeremy for giving so much to veterans’ athletics over the years. He will live on through his splendid newsletters and iconic photos.

Keith Spacie (1935 – 2022) 

1st M70, VAC Cross Country championship January 2008 

Past VAC member, Keith Spacie died on 16 October at the age of 87. He will be remembered as a regular at VAC’s cross country races on Wimbledon Common where he was always at the forefront of his age-group.  

As a Thames Hare & Hounds veteran member, with a prowess for cross country, he accumulated 17 Surrey CC titles, nine Southern titles and three British titles, as well as three victories and one second place in home international cross country championships. 

Keith was a keen participant at the Wimbledon Common parkrun, starting with run number 10 in March 2007, completing 62 up to September 2014. In that time, he set the record for the 70-74 age group, with 20:27 in 2009 (age grade: 89.73%) and for the 75-79 age group in 2011 (22:25, 86.02%). Keith ran 117 parkruns in total, including 32 at Guildford, an event he helped to establish with his partner Clare. 

Keith’s professional life was spent in the armed forces in which he rose to the rank of Major- General. A highlight of his distinguished military career was his appointment as Commander of British Forces in the Falkland Islands in the 1980s.  

In 2012, he was a torch bearer for the Olympic relay as it passed through Guildford. He said the honour was the "ultimate" highlight of his athletic career. "I am delighted to be carrying the torch," he said, explaining that he had been a lifelong athlete and ran every day.  "I am 77 now, but I am still running and competing and I will be trying to set an example, as one of my main aims is to encourage people to keep fit." 

Maurice Doogan (1939-2021)


It is with deep regret that we report the death of this committed and dedicated BMAF Officer on 14 April 2021 at the age of 81. Maurice passed away peacefully in a Nursing Home in Brighton from an illness that he had patiently borne. He chose to move there to be close to his sailing friends; fortunately one of them was able to visit him hours before he slipped away.

Maurice joined the BMAF Executive in 2002, making it clear that it would be for a maximum five year stint before retiring and pursuing other interests.  He was not a man to leave any job unfinished; he was always the last out of the stadium. He became so engrossed in his work, running from organising one Championships to another, Outdoor would no sooner be finished before he would be on the motorway to Birmingham for the next year’s Fixtures Meeting, the booking of venues for the Indoor and the enormously time-consuming task of finding up to 90 Officials to run our 2-day Track & Field and Indoor Championships as well as the Multi Events.

He continued in his professional work up to a few years ago, he was a Chartered Structural Engineer before setting up his own Consultancy business in Chelsea and frequently used his Office facilities for our work. His workload was enormous, yet he never missed any of our then Delegates or Executive Meetings; he would carry out a recce at his own expense of the next European or World Championships, checking on transport, hotels etc. Many of us found that feedback invaluable in our trip planning, and with his knowledge and experience he also advised the Organising Committee on the timescale and how the programme might be improved.

He competed in a few of these earlier Championships until other commitments made it impossible time-wise for him to train etc. He headed up the Team Managers and with Archie Jenkins, Lynn Marr, Arthur Kimber and Ian Richards, we were internationally acknowledged as one of the best managed teams, you would find Maurice at the trackside from early morning till close of the last event.

When he first joined the Executive he wrote passionately about having a dream; that was to see all of you appropriately attired in the official GBR Masters clothing and woe and betide those who did not conform, you would have quickly received one of his dreaded emails! He can now rest in peace in the knowledge that not only did his dream come true, but he was to witness all of you who competed at the last World Championships in Malaga take us to top of the Medal Table, that was a dream that he no doubt though he could only dream of in view of the size of some other teams.

He tried passionately to bring a European or World Championships to Britain, the Olympic stadium would be ideal, he spent hours and huge personal expense seeking meetings with key people in Parks Department, stadium owners, eventually getting UKA approval, only to be thwarted. It is now so sad to think that should we in the near future host one of these events, he will not be there to ensure, in his own words “It would be one of the best organised ever”.

Born in Northampton in September 1939, eventually moving South, he joined Woking AC and then VAC, and as a competitor he did the steeplechase and cross-country. As news of his death spread, tributes have been pouring in from all over the place – he never knew just how much his work and eye for detail was valued. The BMAF Executive and all members offer our sincere condolence to his sister Sandie and thank Archie Jenkins and Arthur who kept in constant touch with him by phone.

Bridget Cushen - April 2021


Dave Stevens 1936 - 2021 

It is with deep regret that we announce the death of Dave Stevens from Steyning on 31 January 2021 at the age of 84, in more recent years he marked out the course at all of VAC’s own Jack Fitzgerald Memorial Races in Tilgate Park, and acted as Starter on VAC’s Cecil Gittins Memorial Races.

Dave, who worked for the Stock Exchange moved from Twickenham to Steyning in the 1970s. He was an established race walker, with his wife Rose Curtis who was herself an international standard jumper with Spartan Ladies.

He quickly integrated himself with race walking in Sussex and particularly Steyning where he took over the role of secretary of Steyning Athletic Club and proved their anchor for forty plus years.

A versatile walker Dave took part in every distance from the 3,000m right through to the London to Brighton race, both the Open and the Stock Exchange version which he won.

Throughout this time he was also one of the best walkers in Sussex winning a host of Sussex track and road titles and many times donning the Sussex vest in Inter-county competitions and also organising many Steyning races.

He was no mean performer nationally clocking 13:0.5s for 3,000m in 1975 and 45:19.5s for the 10,000m track walk in1981. His best in the 20km Road walk also came in 1981 with 1:34:19s while 1978 saw him record 4:49:25s in 1978.

He featured in the NUTS annual Ranking lists throughout the seventies and eighties and when he reached the Masters age groups he made many world trips to race in European and World Master’s Championships, frequently getting amongst the medals and winning titles.

Training and racing was just part of his involvement with race walking -  if he was not racing he would be officiating at all club promotions, not only race walking.

He would frequently be one of the last ones to leave the club house after a function having  helped out with the clearing up.

He will be seriously missed in Steyning and Sussex Race walking and affectionately remembered.

All of our thoughts are with Rose and their children Paul, Michael and Alison and grandchildren. Acknowledgements to Reg Hook of Sussex County AA

Mary Worth (1928 – 2021)
RIP Mary Worth, a member of Steyning AC, who died on 20th January aged 92. She was 78th on the British All-Time list for 20km and a Veteran record holder and European medallist at 3km, 5km and 10km in several age groups. Mary was the widow of former RWA President Peter Worth (Centurion 491), Centurion Vice President and former Captain, RWA Treasurer & RWA Southern Area Treasurer. Acknowledgements to Tony Taylor, Lancashire Walking Club

Peter Ryan (1954 – 2020)
Peter Ryan, past VAC member and race walker died last week. The following obituary is from Ilford AC, his first claim club:

Ilford AC are mourning the death of one of their leading lights – Pete Ryan – who died peacefully in his sleep during the night and failed to rise this morning (Friday 13 November).  He was a pancreatic cancer sufferer in his final years.   He was a lifelong Sheffield Wednesday supporter and enjoyed watching football – having viewed Thursday evening’s match on television before retiring.

Peter, aged 66, a retired Police Constable, was a proud Yorkshireman who moved south to this area in the 70s – and stayed!

He was a tall man with a long stride and a formidable athlete in both running and race walking events, at a variety of distances, and one who also represented the British Police in representative matches.
His best moment came at Newmarket in 2003 when he won the British 100 Miles’ Walking Championship in 19 hours 57 minutes and 35 seconds.

Peter was a keen participant of VAC walking races in Battersea Park. He also helped recording walkers at the track 10,000m championships. In later years he was a prolific park runner, travelling all over the United Kingdom to participate.
Ros Tabor

 Alistair Jackson (Jacko) 1943 - 2020


Alistair Jackson, known to most as Jacko, passed away on 7 August 2020, aged 77. He joined VAC in 1988 and was a regular at VAC events especially cross country, often representing the club in the Surrey League team. He was a prolific racer, preferring the small, friendly events such as parkrun and the various lunchtime midweek races including the Woking and Hammersmith Handicaps, Crystal Palace Canter and the Serpentine Last Friday of the Month 5kms, in which he competed nearly 200 times. He was also a regular at the Algarve and Guernsey challenge races where his friendliness and Lancastrian sense of humour were much appreciated.


In the last ten years, he had devoted his energy to parkruns, firstly at Hove Park and then at Preston Park, which he supported from its first week. He completed 377 parkruns, 271 of them at Preston Park. As well as running, he regularly volunteered as a marshal, many times at the Preston Park junior parkrun. He will be missed by many.

Photo: Cliff Hide


Former VAC member Pete Mulholland died on 25 March 2020, aged 80.

He was a lifelong member of Hercules Wimbledon and was a member of their Southern 12-stage relay winning team.

After retiring from competitive running Pete was active in Surrey County Athletics Association and was President in 2016.

He was a founder of Wimbledon Common parkrun in 2007 and was always there on a Saturday morning giving out finish tokens.

In recognition of his dedication as an athletics volunteer he was awarded the British Empire Medal in 2015.

He was long-time contributor to Athletics Weekly and a past masters’ editor.

He was very supportive of VAC events and frequently helped officiate at our races on Wimbledon Common including club cross country championships. 

Michael May 1960-2019
Michael passed away peacefully on 7 September 2019, aged 59. As a dedicated sportsman, he supported athletics as a competitor, official, team manager and committee member. His many friends in the athletics community recently awarded him the inaugural Michael May Masters trophy in recognition of his fortitude in the face of adversity and his fine example of giving support and encouragement to others, despite his cancer diagnosis. The trophy will be awarded in his memory to people who have similarly contributed above and beyond and shown dedication, commitment and resilience.

Michael started his athletics career running cross country for Durham University. On his return to London in 1983 he joined the newly formed Wimbledon Windmilers club, continuing as an endurance runner and racing all distances up to the marathon, his best being 3:48 in the 1989 London Marathon. He also tried out various distances on the track, from the 100m to the 800m, and found that he particularly enjoyed the sprints. In 1991, he joined a coaching group run by Chuck Isetts and refined his fast kick to become a successful sprinter and long jumper. His lifetime PBs were set in 1994: 100m 12.7, 200m 26.3, 400m 58.2 and long jump 4.55m. He joined his final club, Kingston and Polytechnic Harriers in 1993 in order to focus on track racing and benefit from the training facilities at the Kingsmeadow stadium. He fully embraced Masters athletics and was proud to wear the GB kit in championships all over Europe and the world on around 25 occasions, including in Brazil, Australia, USA, Canada and South Korea. His last competition was in March 2019 at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland, where he achieved respectable times in the 60m and 200m races.

Michael had a strong desire to put something back into his sport. He was much appreciated as a Level 2 Track and Field judge and a long-serving Team Manager for his club. He was delighted to be a London Olympics gamesmaker in 2012. For VAC, he was a loyal member for nearly 20 years and dedicated much time and effort to the roles of President and Treasurer. Latterly he brought his considerable experience and expertise to the role of Track & Field Secretary. He will be greatly missed. Rest in peace, Michael.

Ron Franklin 1928 - 2017/18

We have been informed of the passing of Ron Franklin some time ago. Ron finished 6th when representing his beloved Wales at the 1958 Commonwealth & Empire Games that were held in Cardiff. A prolific and high mileage trainer, still clocking up to 80-100 miles per week when aged over 60 and who lived for his sport. He will be remembered for his encyclopaedic memory for statistics and names; he became an iconic figure and voice at domestic and international Championships. A life long vegan and extremely well read on nutrition, legionary stories abound of his dialogue with Customs Officers when he landed at airports loaded with bagfuls of his chosen food and collection of running shoes.

Ron joined VAC in 1968 and had been the club's longest serving member. He competed in many VAC races and made good contributions on the Committee for many years. Latterly, he was living with dementia and the “voice of athletics” slipped quietly away in a Care Home in Lincs. He will be fondly remembered. From the BMAF website.

Jack Rutherford 1953 - 2019

VAC was sad to hear that Jack Rutherford passed away peacefully on 29 May 2019.
Jack was a member of VAC and his first claim club was Walton AC where he had been an athlete, official, team manager, coach, committee member and ultimately chairman.

He recently competed in the 60 years age group in the throws in the Southern Counties Veterans League. He ran in the cross country race at the European Masters Indoor track and field championships in Madrid.  He also coached several runners who have represented VAC at interarea events.

He was always positive and enthusiastic as shown by his trademark pre-competition instructions “just go out there and enjoy it”- epitomising his own attitude to athletics and life.


(photo: Sophie Duckworth)

RIP Doug Fotheringham 1930 – 2018

VAC are sorry to hear of the passing of Doug Fotheringham at the age of 88. He was a life member of Belgrave Harriers, life member of Veterans AC, life member of Metropolitan Police Athletics Association, past secretary of Metropolitan Police Walking Club, past president Middlesex County AA, and on retirement from race walking continued to support events as a spectator despite living in Lincolnshire. He was also a Centurion qualifying in the 1965 Chigwell 100 miles.He is survived by sons Neal and Mark and three grandchildren.

Full tribute appears in the November edition of Enfield Walker including his innumerable achievements in world masters athletics, also shortly available on the Enfield League site:

RIP Russell Vroobel 1958 – 2018

VAC are sorry to hear of the passing of Russell Vroobel. He was an active member of both Hillingdon AC and VAC.

Welsh International Ken Bobbett, also from Hillingdon AC has kindly given permission for the following tribute:

“It was with great sadness that I learned of Russell’s death. He was a well-known and liked man who communicated easily with all in the race walking fraternity.

His race walking career, like many of us, began at school. To those walkers active in the 1970’s and 1980’s Russell would have been well known. His Club in those days was Highgate Harriers. He was a reliable club member and was an accomplished racer achieving the 7 mile in the hour standard on a number of occasions. His ambition was to become a Centurion and indeed on a number of occasions Russell did attempt the 100 mile distance. Sadly, due to lack of time for appropriate conditioning he was not successful. This, however, remained a goal that Russell hoped to achieve when retired.

His race walking career took a backseat when he graduated in Law and started to build a business specialising in Conveyancing.

I first met Russell in2012 when he joined Hillingdon AC, his local club, to restart his race walking career. He joined the club at a time when Hillingdon AC race walking section was beginning to enjoy team success. His contribution to the team ensured success for Hillingdon in the Enfield League when finishing in the frame in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

A lasting memory for me will be his competitiveness and gritty determination to finish. This determination can be best exemplified by his performance in the BMAF 30k at Coventry in 2014. On an extremely hot and sultry day, conditions not best suited to Russell, he soldiered on to the finish to earn himself a Bronze medal.

His death is a sad loss for our sport in general but for Hillingdon AC in particular.

Russell is survived by Jackie his wife, Anna his daughter and Jonny his son.”

Noel Noble 1923 - 2017
VAC was very sad to learn of the death of International Opera Singer and longtime Polytechnic Harriers and Veterans AC middle distance competitor, Noel Noble, at the end of June after a fine innings of over 94 years.
As an athlete in the UK, in the 1970s/1980s, he was very supportive of both Poly and VAC and, although his running career in the UK never reached great heights, he would invariably be present to complete his club teams, not least at cross country events. He contributed to VAC on and off the arena, and was their TM/Organiser when they set a World Best for the then-popular 100 x 1 Mile Relay at Crystal Palace, causing other overseas veterans clubs to challenge their achievement.

VAC has the Noel Noble trophy, for MV50 1500m/1 mile.

Brian Harlick sadly died shortly before Christmas 2016. He was an active member of both Epsom and Ewell Harriers and VAC. He competed regularly in the pole vault, and all the throwing events, most recently as a V70. He competed in the Pole Vault in the Main Surrey Championships from 1994 - 2010 having previously competed in the Surrey Cross-Country Championships from 1983 - 1986. He was also a very active official, and when not competing, helped at VAC track and field championships. At the Surrey County Athletics Association AGM on Friday a posthumous award was given. The Officials Cup was collected by his children (Marianne and Michael).

Photo: Jeremy Hemming

 Charles Eugster (1919 – 2017)

Charles Eugster joined VAC as a sprinter a few years ago so that he could compete in British Masters events. He had previously rowed competitively, but took up sprinting at the age of 95. He set age group records in both the 100m and 200m and competed at several World and European masters’ championships. He has written a book called Age is Just a Number which was published in January 2017.

Ros Tabor

Alasdair Ross, 1952-2016 In Memoriam

Alasdair died on 4th July 2016 aged 64. He was originally from Edinburgh and, as a senior athlete competed against David Jenkins in the 400m and Allan Wells in the 200m and was selected to compete for Scotland on a couple of occasions.

However it was in Masters competition that Alasdair excelled winning gold medals and setting records at numerous World, European and British championships since starting to compete at age 40. He is currently European M60 indoor record holder over 200m (25.24s) and British M60 indoor record holder over 400m (58.13s). He holds Scottish Masters outdoor bests for 100m, 200m and 400m in the M50, M55 and M60 age categories and the 400m in the M45 category. Indoors he holds bests for 60m, 200m and 400m in the M50, M55 and M60 age categories.

A well known, popular and top class athlete, Alasdair will be sadly missed.
VAC and all its members offer their sincere condolences to his wife Lorraine and his family. 7-11-16

Taken in August 1991  at VAC T&F Champs West London Stadium

The trophies in his hands are probably 100m, 200m and best sprint trophy.

Possibly his first veteran comp; certainly first with VAC.


There is a photograph of Ron in 2009 with Cecil Gittins in Cecil's obituary below.

Thames Valley Harriers club legend Ron Hopcroft has died at the age of 98.

Ron was born in Chiswick in 1918 and was active in many sports at school before joining Ashcombe AC at the age of 17, winning his first race in Regents Park and competing in cross country and track races before being called up to the forces in 1939. He returned  to  London in 1941 dealing with bomb damage from air raids and finding that Ashcombe AC had disbanded, he joined Thames Valley Harriers.  Ron briefly returned to track running after the war but in 1949 at the age of 31 he decided to try long-distance road running to get fit for the cross country season,  joining the road running team and a large training group based at Boston Manor in West London.
He won the “Brighton” race (approx 55 miles from Big Ben to the Brighton Aquarium) in 1956.

Ron then turned his attention to the 100 mile record, targeting the world best time of 12:20:28, deciding to do it the hard way by running from Hyde Park Corner to Box in Wiltshire, a very hilly course in the final 30 miles.  At 5am on  25th October 1958, Ron set off from Hyde Park Corner;  through 30 miles at Reading in under 3½ hours before the hills started,  Newbury at 56 miles before it became crowded with racegoers, cup of tomato soup and piece of bread on the move at 60 miles, on to Marlborough at 75 miles, in trouble at 80 miles walking for a few yards, more soup and back to sub 7 minute miling, through Chippenham at 90 miles, struggled through worst of the hills, eventually Box came in to sight in the dusk, finishing in a new record of 12:18:16. 

Ron but was forced to retire from running in 1961 after an ankle injury and the pressure of business and family commitments. He continued working as a track judge and cross country official until 2007 and acted as timekeeper at VAC events.

KEN CROOKE 1928 - 2015 - It is with regret that we have to report that Ken died on 8th December 2015. He was elected president of the County Association in 2010 having previously been Treasurer. Ken's passion was Cross-Country and he held senior positions in the English Cross-Country Association, South of Thames Cross-Country Association and the East Surrey League. He was also the key person for many years in the cross-country activities of his club, Croydon Harriers. His funeral was held at Lyndhurst, Hampshire on 7th January 2016. Profile

Cecil Gittins and Ron Hopcroft (see obituary) on Wimbledon Common in 2009
Photo by Jeremy Hemming


Funeral of Cecil Gittins held at Kingston Crematorium 15 December 2014, followed by reception at nearby Antoinette Hotel.

Sad news has been received that Cecil Gittins, race walker, timekeeper, judge, and active VAC committee member until 2013 has passed away.

He had been a member of Queens Park Harriers since 1946 and attended committee meetings until again 2013.
He was recognised for his numerous years' service to athletics in Queens Park Harriers and Middlesex County in 2014 in a Brent Community Champions Awards ceremony but was not well enough to attend personally.

He had been in a nursing home in Raynes Park since 2013 and was nearly 86.

The funeral was well attended by his many friends including those in race walking, VAC and Queens Park Harriers.

The eulogies were delivered by VAC members Bill O'Connor and Peter Cassidy,  and his lawyer, and covered his active and successful life as a scientist, athlete, official, and prominent member of the Liberal Party, later Liberal Democrats.

The following is reproduced by kind permission of Peter Cassidy:


Cecil Gittins, who has died six weeks short of his eighty-sixth birthday, was for many years a well-known figure in the race walking world in this country.

A club competitor in his younger days, he will be known principally because of his contribution to administration and officiating, both locally and at a higher level.

He served as Chairman of the Race Walking Association from 1977 to 1980, 1983 to 1988 and again from 1989 to 1998; the period from 1983 to 1998 would have been a remarkable unbroken spell of fifteen years had he not vacated the chair in 1988 to become the Association's President. Although he was asked to continue to guide the General Committee and Annual General Meetings from the Chair, he firmly declined to stand after his seventieth birthday, modestly declaring himself to be too old.

He continued for some time, however, as Chairman of the Rules, Records and Standards Sub-Committee, dealing with some of the nuts and bolts of organisation. He had the attractive policy of not ending a Sub-Committee meeting by fixing the date of the next, arguing that if a meeting took place without having some pre-arranged matters to deal with, it would last just as long and achieve nothing; many of the members were grateful for this attitude.

As an official - principally as a timekeeper but also as a judge and a recorder - he spent many hours beside the track and the road serving his sport and was one of the timekeepers when the Lugano Trophy meeting was held in the Isle of Man in 1985.

He was always interested in the younger walkers and, until age and health problems prevented it, frequently accompanied the juniors in their trips to Dublin to contest the Nihill Trophy match; the young team members came to regard him as a sort of mascot to be looked after.

Cecil had worked as a chemist and remained interested in scientific matters to the end of his life. It was, perhaps, his scientific approach that led him to reject any religious belief, while his good nature allowed him to look with a sort of benign sympathy upon those who did not share his views.

Cecil appeared to have no family, but with his passing, we in race walking have lost a loyal and devoted servant of our sport and a mildly eccentric friend.

Peter Cassidy

I regret to inform you that Jaroslav Hanus, multiple British masters record holder in the throws, passed away on March 8th 2014, following a stroke. The funeral will be at Breakspear crematorium, Ruislip, on Thursday 20th March at 1pm.

Jaroslav was born in Czechoslovakia in 1930, After the war he participated in many sports - athletics, including throws and decathlon, basketball, ice hockey, and volleyball. He eventually concentrated on the throws, becoming Czech hammer champion in 1950 or 1951. During his national service he made the elite army team, and among his team mates was one Emil Zatopek. He gave up his athletics when he qualified as an architect, and emigrated to Britain in 1968 to continue his work as an architect. When he retired in 1995 he took up athletics again, and set 33 British Masters records in the throws. He competed all over the world in masters athletics, winning many medals in the process. He was a character, and will be sadly missed. 17-03-14

Sir Chris Chataway 1931 - 2014

Chris died on 19 January 2014 , aged 82, after suffering from cancer. He held membership of VAC since 2006, as well as Thames Hare and Hounds, and competed cross country with the club.
Chataway was one of Britain's finest middle-distance runners in the 1950s and a member of the Olympic team in 1952 and 1956.
In May 1954, he helped Roger Bannister break the four-minute mile before achieving his own world record in the 5,000 metres four months later.
By the end of the year he had become the first person to be awarded the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year.
In 1959 he entered Parliament as a Conservative MP. He was made minister of Posts and Telecommunications (1970-1972) and Minister for Industrial Development (1972-1974). He then left politics for a career in the City.
From 1991 to 1996 he was chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority and was knighted in 1995.
He kept his passion for running alive and ran the Great North Run some three years ago. 20-01-14

BOB BELMORE 13 October 1927 – 9 September 2013

Bob died aged 85 after a short illness. He was well known as a tireless organiser and dedicated team manager who willingly devoted huge amounts of time and energy to club affairs in every capacity. He was a former VAC President and as a Committee Member for over twenty years filled the roles of Cross Country Secretary, T&F Secretary and Road Secretary, as well as supporting and coaching many Masters athletes to compete and fulfil their potential. In the 1950s and 1960s, he was instrumental in building up his local club, Guildford & Godalming AC, to become a junior and senior force on the Surrey scene. A legacy from that era is the Hogs Back road race which Bob helped to instigate and make famous.

In the 1980s he used his organisational skills and immense enthusiasm to found Waverley Harriers, a running club for athletes of all ages and abilities. Bob also became a specialist at developing cross country courses, such as those on his local commons at Milford and Tilford. This prepared him well for embracing Wimbledon Common as Vets AC’s home ground. He organised countless club and Surrey League cross country races there. His hands-on style saw him out early setting up the courses, constructing the finish funnel, sorting out the officials, starting the race with well-chosen words, working out the results and finally presenting the awards. In 1991, he took VAC’s men into the Surrey League, followed a few years later by a women’s team. Under his upbeat and positive leadership, the teams demonstrated that Masters athletes can hold their own admirably in senior competitions. Other credits due to Bob include the foundation of the 5km Veterans’ championship races at Dunsfold Aerodrome in the 1990s and VAC’s successful hosting of two BVAF Championships at Reading (T&F) and Tunbridge Wells (cross country).

Bob was a great athlete himself in a long career stretching from success in 440 and 880 yard races in his early twenties, through to honours at County and Southern level at cross country, competing well with the greats of the time such as Gordon Pirie and Chris Chataway. He fully embraced the Veterans’ scene after his 50th birthday and made good marks. In 1983, aged 55, he won Gold in the BVAF National Cross Country at Wolverhampton. However, it was in the M60 age group that he achieved success at national and international level. He was justifiably proud of his British 5,000m M60 record of 17:27.8 achieved at Reading in 1988. The record stood for four years until it was bettered by the late, great, Laurie O’Hara. At international level, Bob’s highpoint was his trip to the World Vets in Melbourne in 1989 in which he won a Bronze medal in the 5,000m. He also placed highly in middle distance events at European championships in Verona and Brugge.

In his later years, Bob devoted nearly all his time to organising VAC activities in every running discipline. He is remembered for his dedication and persistence, and also for his generous spirit, warmth and friendship. 26-09-13

Jack Fitzgerald
You may have been expecting this sad news. It is with much sorrow that I have to inform you that Jack died this morning (13 May 2013) in the temporary Residential Home in Putney where he had been moved to from hospital whilst waiting a place nearer his home. He had been very much up and down recently. He reached his 90th birthday in January and had always said that would do him, that is long enough.
The funeral was on Thursday 6 June at Lambeth Cemetery, Tooting 13-05-13
Ron Eaton, 'Ron the Runner' 
A great servant of Athletics has been lost to us. Those who in the past have worked on Administration at the London Marathon, will remember Ron as the kindly and friendly man who managed the Registration process. Sadly he died recently and his funeral was at the City of London Crematorium on 20 September. He was 86 and was survived by a son and a daughter and two grandchildren. He was shortly to become a Great Grandfather. He was himself a prodigious runner who completed many marathons including London and New York. He also race-walked, was a Centurion and had completed the London to Brighton. He was greatly affected by the loss of his wife Joyce 7 years ago and it was appropriate to hear the BBC's London Marathon theme being played at the service which ended with the pop song 'Keep on Running'. He greatly enjoyed running and considered himself a serious runner. Thus the award by Running Magazine of the title 'Fun Runner of the Year' didn't go down at all well... 26-09-11
The funeral took place on Tuesday 9th June 2009 at The Forest Park Crematorium, Forest Road, Hainault. Essex. IG6 3HP.
Laurence was involved in a fatal accident in Wood Lane, Dagenham at the junction of Gosfield Road opposite the Dagenham Civic Centre. 4-06-09

Chas Walker  (on right) was a former VAC President (1999) and an active distance runner up until 1998, and quite a character. He is shown awarding VAC's Gibson Cup to Mike Martineau.


The Belgrave site citation says

Charlie Walker 1929-2008

It is with deep regret that we must announce that the President of Belgrave Harriers, Charlie Walker, died yesterday afternoon, Wednesday 13th February.

Charlie’s career was a prodigious one to say the least. He ran with success at the top level of competition when this country’s middle and long distance runners were household names and second to none!

In any other period he would no doubt have gained himself full international honours.

Gordon Pirie, Frank Sando, Alec Olney, John Parlett, Chris Chataway… these are just some of the stars of the ’50s & ’60s with whom Charlie tangled with over track, road and cross country. He trained with them, raced against them, was beaten by them and on occasions beat them in return. 14-02-08

Jim Day died suddenly on Sunday morning (1 July 2007). Jim would have been 74 in August and the following year would have achieved 50 years membership of Blackheath & Bromley HAC. 4-07-07

Jim McQuillin died around the 26 December 2006 after a short illness.
An Epsom & Ewell Harrier, distance runner and official; he was also a former Membership Secretary of VAC. The funeral was private. It is understood that there was a plan to scatter his ashes on Banstead Downs on Sunday 14 January 2007. 6-01-07