The 111th Lancashire Walking Club AGM witnessed a heartfelt and humbling occasion. Dogged by ill-health Fred Pearce, the club’s ‘Jack of all trades’ and pivotal personality, was stepping down from his roles as President, Chairman and Treasurer. In his address, Fred outlined the club’s continuing and significant presence on the race walking scene, which owes much to his sterling efforts over decades of commitment to the cause. However, as he came to close his remarks, Fred found it nigh impossible to control his emotions, bringing a tear to many an eye, not least those of Christine, his devoted wife. Finally, he managed to mouth the painfully ironic, yet evergreen club motto, ‘Health is the first Wealth, before giving way to standing ovation from all those present. In doing so we remembered also with great sadness the passing of Dave Crompton, a much-missed Lancashire stalwart.
The meeting was faced with the dilemma of how and with whom to replace our Fred. To the rescue, cutting through the fog of anxiety, came John Crahan, famous for his wit, tact diplomacy and fondness for a pint. He proposed to much acclaim that Fred continued as an Honorary President, whilst suggesting that Roy Gunnett and Dave Evans between them shared the tasks of Chairman, General Secretary and Treasurer. To our collective relief, Roy and Dave succumbed to John’s charm. Rumour has it that John was approached to sort out the whole Brexit chaos, but he refused, preferring to prioritise his arduous winter training regime in a bid to put his brother, Peter, firmly in his place. We will see.
Crisis averted, the business of the AGM was completed with the minimum of fuss, Our financial situation proved to be healthy. Adrian Edwards took both the Cliff Royle Salver and the AJ Taylor Award, proving to be yet again the club’s outstanding performer, whilst Joe Hardy’s commitment saw him take the Annual Handicap Award just ahead of Roy Gunnett.
There was though one more moving moment before the meeting closed. Roy Gunnett stepped forward on behalf of the whole membership to present Fred with an engraved whisky decanter to mark the occasion and as a tribute to his remarkable contribution to our club across 66 years of membership. Following in his wake Glyn Jones, wearing his Race Walking Association hat, paid a fulsome tribute to Fred’s endeavours.
And, allowing myself a personal touch, I recollected that Fred and I raced against one another for the first time on September 29th, 1963, over fifty-five years ago, The event, a club four and a quarter miles handicap starting at our headquarters, the imposing Midland Hotel in the centre of West Didsbury, saw John Paddick, a guest, win the scratch race ahead of Ron Wallwork. Although Fred beat me by a couple of minutes, I took the handicap prize, having a week earlier gained the then coveted 6 miles in the hour badge in the ‘D’ section of the famous Highgate track event. A fortnight later Ron Wallwork finished a brilliant 5th in the Lugano Trophy 50k in 4:23: 56, a member of the victorious GB team in what was in all but name the World Team Championship.
In the following years, Ron put Lancashire Walking Club firmly on the map, always confident that Fred would make sure that all necessary arrangements were immaculately organised. What’s changed? And yet change inevitably lies before us.
On behalf of all, sincere thanks to Fred for all his graft, enormous goodwill and generosity.
Forever in your debt.
BILL JACKSON TROPHY 5k, NOVEMBER 3, 2018
Roy Gunnett reports:
There was a good turnout for the pre-AGM race of both walkers and officials – the 12 walkers included 3 guest walkers (Glyn Jones and Stuart Edgar from the Midlands and Dan Maskell from Brighton). Weather conditions were good for the time of year.
The scratch race was won by Adrian Edwards. Roy Gunnett won the yacht handicap and was therefore awarded the Bill Jackson Trophy. It was a closely fought out race with half the field finishing within a minute of each other.
1 Adrian Edwards Lancashire WC M55 28.54
2 Stuart Edgar Dudley and Stourbridge M45 31.40
3 Peter Crahan Lancashire WC M65 32.00
4 Dan Maskell Surrey WC M70 32.10
5 John Crahan Lancashire WC M65 32.30
6 Tony Bell Lancashire WC M55 32.40
7 Roy Gunnett Lancashire WC M70 32.44
8 Glyn Jones Coventry Godiva M75 32.49
9 Joe Hardy Lancashire WC M75 33.05
10 Sailash Shah Lancashire WC M50 33.51
11 Pat Evans Lady Lancashire WC W65 35.08
12 Ian Vaughan Lancashire WC M65 37.38