KEEPING THE RED ROSE FLAG FLYING: RIP FRED PEARCE [1939 – 2019]

Message from the family:

Fred Pearce’s funeral will take place on Thursday 2nd May, 1.45pm at the
Stockport Crematorium – Rowan Chapel.

Everyone is welcome back to our home for food/drinks post the service to celebrate his life, address as follows:
4 Anglesey Drive
Poynton
Cheshire
SK12 1BT

Dave Evans writes: What a memorable and moving occasion. All seats were taken and most of our club were standing in the corridor and beyond. The support was tremendous. James started the eulogies with tales of Fred’s life as a family man, Ron Wallwork spoke about Fred’s massive contribution to the world of race walking, drawing attention to the club web site, where so many had shared their anecdotes and their grief. Finally a business partner gave a revealing insight into how Fred operated in that sphere of his life – never a bad word, always supportive, prepared to go the extra mile and never any need to sign any agreement! We retired to Fred’s home afterwards for a function in a marquee in the back garden, feasting on wine, non alcoholic drinks and a lovely range of sandwiches, quiche, salads, nibbles , vegan food and a very large gateaux of many flavours.

Those attending the funeral included Bill Cowley, Eric Crompton, Louise Whaite, Sailash Shah, Greg Smith, Chris Bolton, Maurice Ireland, Roy Gunnett, Martin and Judy Fisher, Dan Maskell (travelled all the way from from Brighton), John and Peter Crahan, Eric and Pam Horwill, Bob Dobson (foot heavily bandaged after an operation on a hammer toe), Pam Ficken, Helen Elleker(current RWA president), John Constandinou, Julian Hopkins, Ian Hilditch and Irene Pike, Joe Hardy, Greg Smith, Ron and Joan Wallwork, Alan Brooks, Phil Carroll, Peter and Marion Fawkes, Tony Malone, Adrian Edwards, Guy Goodair, Joyce Harasimuick, Pat Evans and myself- apologies if anyone is missing. Deeply felt apologies were received from Tony Taylor, Tony Bell, Andrea Lennon and John Payn. In conversations on the day Chris Pearce indicated that she wished to continue her association with the club. All of us very much hope so. The names Pearce and Lancashire Walking Club are inseparable.

Clubs like ours could not exist without the selfless devotion and commitment of its leading members and officials. In my time people such as Dick and Zena Smith, Joe Lambert and Frank O’Neill, to name but a few, spring to mind. And now, tragically, we have lost our very own and much loved Fred Pearce, without whom the proud name of Lancashire Walking Club might well have been consigned to history. In one of his last messages to members, Fred urged us to keep the red rose flag flying. There is no doubt that to do so will be the very best way to honour Fred’s memory. For the present here are just some of the heartfelt responses we are receiving. In offering our sincerest condolences to Chris, James and Charlotte we hope these recollections from far and wide will convey some sense of our deep respect and affection for one of Lancashire Walking Club’s greatest.

Colin Vesty: The officers of the RWA are incredibly saddened to receive the news of the passing of Past President Fred Pearce. He passed away in the early hours of Monday morning after a brave fight with cancer. Fred is probably best known as being the leading light and stalwart of race walking in Lancashire for a great many years. There will no doubt be many stories and recollections shared about his long and distinguished association with race walking, both locally and nationally. He will be sadly missed by a great many people. Our thoughts and prayers are with his loving family and friends.

Taken at Leigh 1963 – from the left Dick Smith, Mike Hatton, ‘young’ Fred, Graham Abley, Alf Taylor, Jim O’Neill and Ivor Percival

Ron Wallwork: Fred Pearce’s demise triggered as I’m sure it did for many others, a host of memories of great deeds and of happy times which would take volumes to record. Here are some thoughts that have crossed my mind.
I joined Lancashire Walking Club in early 1958 at which time the club had a handful of junior walkers among them “young” Fred. Young Fred, to distinguish him from his father Centurion 255 one of a dozen club members who qualified for the brotherhood in the four years 1954 to 1958.

I don’t recall when I met Fred for the first time; it was probably at one of the Mile races put on by Leigh Harriers. However, I do have vivid recollections of staying overnight at Fred’s home, which I think was in Higher Openshaw on 17th October that year, because of an early start to a race the following day. His mother and dad ensured that we had a good breakfast before we set off from their house to meet up with fellow teenagers Charlie Norton, Chris Bolton, Bob Towell and chaperone Sam Morgan at Manchester Central station to catch the 07.20 to London. Thanks to Lancashire Walking Club because for the first time ever, they were sending a team to an RWA national junior five miles championship being staged that year at Luton from the Vauxhall Motors Sports Club.
In those days London was a long way off; steam trains hadn’t been totally replaced by diesel and no one had heard of a motorway, let alone been on one, so it was quite an adventure. I can’t remember much about the journey, but do recall that as we reconnoitred the three-lap course, we all clued up about one of the turns because it was by a newsagent’s which had a huge spread of ‘girlie’ magazines in the window, which took us boys from the dark satanic mills a bit by surprise.
A field of 52 comprising 9 teams made for furious racing and with lungs bursting and shins screaming for relief, there was no time for ogling at shop windows. The journey was not in vain; we returned home with bronze team medals behind Belgrave H and Steyning AC. The scorers were myself 4th 39.42, Charlie Norton 42.41 and Fred 43.19. A year later up and down Olympic Way at Wembley the club went one better Fred being second scorer home on that occasion.
It was the beginning of a period of resurgence for the club; it presented itself as a serious challenger to Sheffield UH’s northern supremacy as well as a force at national level and within a dozen years had won more national championship medals including; silvers at the 1967 20km and 20 miles and gold in the 1970 National 20kms.
It isn’t recorded anywhere but Fred’s contribution to this period was enormous. Although not a scorer in many of the triumphs he was nevertheless an ever-present, a team manager ferrying people around the country to important events and being on hand to support them during the races. He virtually acted as my agent during my hectic decade as an international and I owe him so much.
Time passed and as the club lost the likes of the Smith’s, O’Neill’s and the Lambert’s, Fred took more responsibility and was at the helm to steer the club through the drastic changes that race walking has experienced since the 1980s. The retention of the Manchester-Blackpool to its centenary landmark and the club’s continued existence is due jointly to many people, but the over-arching factor was Fred Pearce (Jnr).
So much for his contribution to Lancashire Walking Club, but he still had the capacity to contribute massively to race walking in general as an official at a local, regional and national level.
Not all that tall physically, but of giant stature in the race walking world. Thanks, Fred, RIP.
Joan and I have Chris, Charlotte and James very much in our minds at this time.

Surrounding Fred a group of those he supported so superbly – from the left Julian Hopkins, Eric Crompton, Mick Entwistle. Ron Wallwork and Tony Taylor

Peter and Marion Fawkes: Like so many others, Marion and I were saddened to hear the news of Fred’s passing. Fred was the quiet engine that made Northern Race walking tick and he will be greatly missed. His unassuming nature and beaming smile greeted us when we returned to these shores from Australia and he immediately made us feel welcomed back into the Race Walking fold – but that was Fred all over. A truly great Ambassador for the Sport and Chris, James and Charlotte can be proud of everything he achieved in life.
R.I.P. Fred,

Stephen Sargent: I first met Fred in April 2002 at a 20K event on one of the Eaves Lane courses after a search for a race walking club had led me to the Lancashire Walking Club. I had never met Fred before but I nevertheless found myself in his car and being driven around the course as if I were an old friend. Could a novice and newcomer have been made to feel more at home?
Emboldened by the welcome I had received, I raced for the first time the following month in a 10K in the Affetside area. Further races followed, culminating in that year’s AGM and membership of the club.
Alas, that proved to be it for some five years as a back problem curtailed any training and racing and it was not until the Sam Shoebottom of January 2008 that I became once more part of the club’s activities. I mention this setback because I sometimes think that people like myself – on the fringes, as it were- are often, paradoxically, able to get a better picture of things than those more heavily involved. I say this because, five year’s absence notwithstanding, Fred greeted me as if I had never been away! What a wonderful man. Ours is a splendid sport and we all help and encourage each other but when, as was so often the case, it was Fred who had quiet words of encouragement for me as I plodded past him the boost they gave me came from the fact that they came from Fred – for in my eyes he was soul and spirit of race walking – and I marvelled that also-rans like myself mattered to him as much as the speed-merchants who I looked up to. On reflection I shouldn’t have been surprised for Fred’s beloved Lancashire Walking Club was everything to him and all its members were in Fred’s eyes equally valuable parts of it.
Poor health this winter has kept me away from the club and its activities and I have found this very hard for I knew how ill Fred was and how little time remained for him to be with us and I was particularly upset by being unable to get to the AGM.
I am not ashamed to admit that I have been close to tears as I have typed this little tribute. Fred belonged to a now vanished age – a more gentle and generous one – and I have been privileged to have known him.

Julia Bellfield : Sorry to hear this news such a lovely lovely man. My thoughts are with his wonderful wife and their family.

Greg Smith: When I first met Fred in the mid-1970s I was living in Manchester but still walking for Basildon AC. He quietly convinced me that it made more sense to join Lancashire Walking Club, a suggestion I never regretted. Fred was always an enthusiastic competitor and supportive clubmate. Later, I came to appreciate his very considerable organizational skills in arranging the full range of Lancashire Walking Club activities. He went about those tasks in an exemplary way – patiently,
efficiently, and in an unfussy manner. At the back of all this diligent work done on our collective behalf was Fred’s enormous knowledge of the events, the characters and the stories that made up the history of the Club. Listening to Fred talk after our races made me realise that I was part of a long tradition that was about much more than just the walking. Fred’s constant good humour and relentless cheerfulness were always guaranteed to raise the spirits. Thanks, Fred, you enriched my life and will be missed.

Graham Jackson: Really sad news about Fred. Knew him from the early late 70s when walking had taken off in York. Fred was well respected in not only the north of England as president but as a grade 1 judge. Also in latter years as RWA president and organiser of the Manchester to Blackpool and Manchester 50. He will be sorely missed by us lads in York past and present – York Postal and City RIP Fred

Catherine McGrath: So sorry to read of Fred’s passing. He was a lovely man, a true gentleman. I hope he is walking in the clouds now.

Francisco Reis: I just have no words to express the loss of a great man. RIP.

Fred and Francisco Reis

Glyn Jones: I am really lost for words at this very sad news of Fred’s passing. He was a true gentleman and a well-respected friend. I shall miss him dearly. My sincere condolences go out to his dear wife Chris and all his family. Thank you, Fred for all your endeavours in the sport which you were very passionate about. R.I.P.

Fred in boisterous form with Adrian Edwards and Glyn Jones

Trevor McDermot: It is with enormous regret that we mark the passing of Fred.
A unique and irreplaceable figure who gave a lifetime of dedication to race walking and his beloved club. Only in the last couple of years had he been understandably forced to relinquish a wide range of duties; over the last week we had feared the worst. His love of the sport, experience and cheery smile will be enormously missed.
Our thoughts are with Chris, family, and all friends at Lancashire Walking Club at such a sad time.

Guy Goodair: Very saddened to hear of Fred’s death but feared the worst when he gave up all his duties and positions in race-walking. Fred lived and breathed race-walking and worked tirelessly to promote the sport. We first raced against each other some 58 years ago (11 Feb 1961 to be precise) and I’ve attached a photo from that race – I’m just behind his right shoulder – he’s No 5) Most weeks I’d get an email from Fred, usually a joke or a pithy comment on the state of the world – it brightened my day. It was a privilege to know him, my condolences to Chris, James & Charlotte.

Fred, number 5 – Northern Junior 10 1961 Bradford

Daniel King: I’m very sorry to hear about the loss of Fred. He was always a very supportive and approachable individual who had an infectious smile and always made you feel welcome. A true gentleman and stalwart of race walking who I admired. He will be dearly missed. RIP Fred.

Jo Atkinson: I’m very saddened to hear of the loss of Fred. He was a lovely gentleman who I had the pleasure of knowing from very early on in my walking career. My condolences to all his family. RIP Fred x x

Joan and Ron Wallwork: Ron started his walking career with Fred and he has stayed a good friend ever since. We have met up on numerous occasions and Fred and Christine came to Moulton for the Moulton 5. Our thoughts are with his family

Fred brought us together to celebrate Ron’s 1971 Two Hour record

David Jones: So sorry to hear this sad news. Fred was a lovely person, a real gentleman, and I will miss him greatly. I will always remember his help at the Redcar 100 mile and will fondly remember the Blackpool races which Fred was always in attendance and always encouraging all the athletes. On Behalf of Redcar race walking club.

Ian Richards: A real gentleman and unsung hero

Fred lap scoring with Eric Horwill as Sailash Shah passes through

Chris Maddocks: A fine man. Lovely deserving words. RIP Fred.

Tony Malone: Like Tony Taylor and others I’m lost for words at this news. Fred along with Chris Bolton and Maurice Ireland got me started in race walking back in May 1968 and have been friends ever since. He was godfather to my eldest son Richard. Apart from a short spell at Blackburn Harriers he has been at LWC all his life and has kept the club going for many years. I think without him it may have folded at one point. I have many memories of Fred over the last 50 plus years of travelling around the country to races, Fred ensuring we got there on time, sorting feeding stations out. He would look after all of us and not compete himself. He always had a smile on his face when I turned up at LWC events. My thoughts are with Chris and the family at this sad time. Rest well old friend.

Ann Perry: A lovely gentleman who was always cheerful and willing to do whatever job was needed. He will be missed. My condolences to his family at this difficult time.

Racing at Simister under Fred’s watchful eye

Maureen Jackson: So sorry to learn of Fred’s passing. Such a lovely man & a real gentleman. Always so supportive of Jo & myself her coach.

Graham Young: Fred was a chip off the Old Block. Always a “Smiler”, and like Fred Snr., an unassuming stalwart of our discipline. RIP

Mark Williams: As many others have expressed I’m saddened and lost for words on Fred’s passing. I’ve known Fred my entire time in Race Walking and it’s been both a pleasure and an honour to have known him throughout this time. A true gentleman with a huge smile and an even bigger heart. Fred, you will be sadly missed by all, Rest in Peace. Sincere condolences to Chris, James, Charlotte, and all the family

Olive and Bob Dobson: So sad to hear the news that we all feared. A real gentleman, a great friend & generous supporter of our sport. Words alone are not enough to express our true feelings at this great loss. Condolences to Christine & the family RIP Fred.

Tony Taylor: I’m not usually lost for words and I feared the worst, but it is still difficult to convey how much Fred meant to me. Our friendship goes back to the early 1960s and we raced against one another for the first time in September 1963. One thing we shared is that both of us were the family juniors at the club, reflected in the results of the time, which would read Fred Pearce Snr and Fred Pearce Jnr, alongside A J Taylor Snr and A J Taylor Jnr. During my most successful period as a race walker in the late 60s and early 70s Fred was a central character, making sure that all arrangements were impeccably in place, allowing me and others such as Ron Wallwork to focus on our training and racing. One of the delights of the last 20 years, even though I had fled to Crete, was renewing the strong bond between us on my sporadic appearances at club races. Fred made me feel special.
As for the Lancashire Walking Club itself, Fred has been a tower of strength and inspiration. I’ll try to pull together a tribute that does justice to his endeavours in the coming weeks for the Lancashire Walking Club web site
Outside of walking, we made perhaps a strange couple – Fred, the successful businessman and I, the failed revolutionary socialist. The apparent difference was always good for a laugh and Fred did have a captivating smile. Politics aside, I think we always trusted and believed in our shared compassion for others.
Enough for now. I will miss him dearly.

Fred thinking, ‘ I hope Tony’s not going to make a speech!’

Mark Easton: Sad to hear the news. A real gentleman. RIP Fred

Alistair Shand: Fred was always so welcoming (as were the other LWC members) when I used to regularly venture across the Pennines for races. Although I was a bit of a lost cause in terms of my ‘technique/style’, Fred freely shared tips from his wealth of experience in a forlorn bid to help me improve! He was so friendly and encouraging. A massive loss.

Fred wonders if Alistair has been listening to his advice

Geraldine Legon: Sad news RIP Fred

Joyce Harasimuick: Oh no. I’m heartbroken. Dear Fred, he was a true gentleman and a very inspirational soul. Although I am no longer an active member, Fred and l have always kept in touch. Our aim was to take part in a club race just for old times sake. I’m on holiday at the moment, I’ll dig out my old race books and hopefully post a memory. Truly sorry, sending my heartfelt condolences to Fred’s family and friends.

Sailash Shah: I found quite shocking to hear the news on Tuesday. It was Fred who got me into race walking at the Bury track and if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be doing race walking. I will definitely miss him.

Fred at the Horwich Masters 5km

Stephen Walker: When I had to have both knees repaired in 2004, my surgeon told me that it would be doubtful if I could run again but should try Race-Walking. I remember driving over to Simister and being introduced to Fred and Christine. From that first meeting, I will never forget Fred’s support and encouragement, and even though I have never fully mastered the technique (as Glyn can testify) every race I went to for Lancs, Fred was always there offering words of encouragement and support. Even after moving to South Wales, Fred always kept me up to date with everything that was going on and he took great pleasure in ribbing me when Sale Sharks beat Llanelli (it was only once though!) A true gentleman and my great privilege to have known him, he always had time for everyone and will be sadly missed my condolences to Chris, James & Charlotte

Martin Fisher: Have known Fred for over 40 years first walking in the Winter 10km races at Stretford. Our friendship has continued over that time, always being made welcome at the Lancashire races. Fred would always have a word on how you had walked, to stride out or head up, but always positive and encouraging to everyone, I will miss him.

Dave Evans: A man for all seasons. Being RWA president in 2016, Olympic Year, was a great tribute to Fred’s contribution to the sport and he and the Lancashire Walking club were justly proud of the honour. When Fred’s health began to deteriorate his less able club mates took over the duties he had performed and only then did we realise how much time and effort had gone into running the club, all without complaint. He kept the club alive and it was no surprise that his drive, determination and personality brought visitors from around the UK and even the Ukraine. Until his final illness made it impractical to venture far he still came to races, still cast his judge’s eye over the field and offered advice and encouragement to old hands and newcomers alike. Things will never be the same but his name will live on and the debt we all owe him. Behind all great men there is nearly always a supportive and encouraging family. Fred’s wife Chris and children James and Charlotte can be justly proud of our president and we thank them for making his final months comfortable, doing what he had done for so many years, looking after his walking colleagues. RIP Fred

Dave Evans asks Fred for a tip or two

Edward H. Shillabeer: Total respect, one of the old school. RIP Fred

John Paddick: Top man – We will miss him!

Tony Bell: A sad day for Lancashire Walking Club and our sport. If it hadn’t been for Fred there might not have been a Lancashire Walking Club for me to join when I moved back to NW England in 2005.

Richard Cole: A very unselfish man who gave many years to promoting race-walking. A real gentleman. Another stalwart lost and cannot be replaced.

Dan Maskell: Like everyone who knew dear Fred, I was terribly saddened by the news of his passing. He was always so welcoming and encouraging on my many visits up North. I will miss him dreadfully. I can only imagine the pain of Chris and his family, and of all the members of Lancashire Walking Club who had known him for so long.

Lest we forget. Dave Evans reminds us that we have lost both Dave Crompton and Fred in the last 12 months. Here they are ‘both in their element’.

Peter Marlow: I was truly shocked to hear of the passing of Fred. He was always a gentleman and he will be sadly missed.

Phil McCullagh: Goodbye Fred I’ll miss you. My thoughts are with your family.

Bill and Janice Wright: Fred – always positive, always supportive, always enthusiastic; we will miss his smile, his company and his friendship.

Maurice Ireland: I have many happy memories of Fred from first meeting him and his father at my first race with LWC in 1960. Without any doubt he was the driving force within the Club and an inspiration for the sport of race walking; his election to National President of the RWA was most justly deserved. God bless you Fred and RIP.

I’ll continue to add more comments and photos in the coming days so that this post will stand as a collective tribute to Fred’s memory. You can add your thoughts in the Comment Box below or send an e-mail to tonymtaylor@gmail.com

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2 Responses to KEEPING THE RED ROSE FLAG FLYING: RIP FRED PEARCE [1939 – 2019]

  1. Dave Evans says:

    A man for all seasons. Being RWA president in 2016, Olympic year, was a great tribute to Fred’s contribution to the sport and he and the Lancashire Walking club were justly proud of the honour. When fred’s health began to deteriorate his less able club mates took over the duties he had performed and only then did we realise how much time and effort had gone into running the club, all without complaint. He kept the club alive and it was no surprise that his drive, determination and personality brought visitors from around the uk and even the Ukraine. Until his final illness made it impractical to venture far he still came to races, still cast his judges eye over the field and offered advice and encouragement to old hands and newcomers alike. Things will never be same but his name will live on and the debt we all owe him. Behind all great men there is nearly always a supportive and encouraging family. Fred’s wife Chris and children James and Charlotte can be justly proud of our president and we thank them for making his final months comfortable doing what he had done for so many years, looking after his walking colleagues. RIP Fred

  2. Maurice Ireland says:

    I have many happy memories of Fred from first meeting him and his father at my first race with LWC in 1960. Without any doubt he was the driving force within the Club and an inspiration for the sport of race walking; his election to National President of the RWA was most justly deserved.
    God bless you Fred and RIP.

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