Andrew Fraser RIP, standard bearer for Scottish Race Walking

Andrew [12] in the company from L/R Greg Smith, Bill McFadden and Dave Crompton. Ta to Linda McDermot

We were shocked to hear that Andrew Fraser died very recently. As Dave Evans noted in response to the sad news, Andrew was a regular supporter of our club races until a few years ago, much liked and respected. The photo above captures the camaraderie that grew between Lancashire and our brothers and sisters across the border – not least because of Andrew’s enthusiasm and energy.

So too Andrew supported Northern race walking in general and Trevor McDermot has penned these touching thoughts.

It was a sunny autumn day at the old Whitcliffe leisure centre in Cleckheaton when we first encountered Andrew Fraser of the Yorkshire RWC. A short, stocky, loveable bear of a man ambling around the car park barefoot, he was quite animated about that morning’s event as he enthused over the performances of others, even jumping with delight on hearing that the back marker had set a PB.

Andrew on his way to victory in a Northern League 10 kilometres at Thornton-le-Clay. Ta to Linda McDermot

On another occasion his action looked particularly smooth when winning a league 10km at York in 50 minutes and change (not bad going on an up-and-down course), and he remarked afterwards how magically easy it felt. One of those days most athletes get to experience when everything just seems to click.

Having initially got involved with race walking in South Africa, he was living back home in Scotland and these instances were on his frequent trips south for meaningful races, despite the long drives. Andrew’s earnest hope was to get the discipline established in his native land and, such was his enthusiasm, he seemed to have no limit in trying to attain that dream. Friends at his Portobello club would be exhorted to have a go, local running promoters be prevailed upon to add a walking event, parkruns invaded and lessons offered afterwards, and English contacts invited to visit for coaching weekends in Edinburgh with everything paid for.

A Scotia quartet

Fairly soon after he had Scotia RWC established, and with the support of Scottish Vets and others he was advertising championships on track and road. Video conference calls would be set up beforehand to go through the preparations and emails would arrive with a ton of bullet points involved, so keen was he to get everything just right. Andrew would bubble over with praise for the progress of all his members, and was extremely proud of Bill McFadden’s achievements. Unfortunately, In recent years he had gone off the grid with what we sadly heard were employment and relationship issues, and major problems with his health.

Marion Fawkes’ evocative image of Andrew and a passing tractor that made the front cover of the Race Walking Record

Often, a few days after one of our own promotions, a card would arrive from him full of thanks along with many kind words, which typified his warm, thoughtful and encouraging character. He shall be most fondly remembered. One imagines him now up there somewhere, racing tractors on some heavenly veldt.

RIP Andrew ❤️

Andrew’s hopefully enduring legacy is the revival of race walking in Scotland and the formation of the Scotia Race Walking Club, ably continued by Bill McFadden.

Scotia sisters and brothers with Andrew in the centre

And, finally with the following photo taken by Linda of Andrew with Dave, both sadly no longer with us and Greg, all at Lancashire Walking Club offer our sincerest condolences. We remember Andrew with much affection and in terms of his contribution to our sport with great pride.

Even a smile or two to be discerned – Andrew and Dave RIP

In addition I’ve copied and pasted these tributes from Facebook. I’ll be pleased to add more.

Tony Malone – Andrew was on a business trip to Stockport a few years ago we met up for chat, walk around old Stockport and a lunch together. It was a good day and still remember it when ever I pass that cafe, which I will be doing this morning as usual on a Tuesday.
God bless you Andrew.

Brenda Lupton – Great words for lovely man he will be missed. R.I.P.

John Softley – I first met Andrew at Pollok parkrun in Glasgow. I was running and he finished just behind me racewalking! We struck up a conversation and went into the Burrell cafe for a coffee and became friends and I was soon racewalking! RIP Andrew.

Mark Williams – I remember him once travelling to a 10,000m track race in Birmingham, he set out in the early hours of the morning and travelled back straight after the race due to work commitments, he was incredibly interested and encouraging with everyone else performances. So sad to hear of his recent problems, such a sad loss of a really nice guy, a gentleman. May he rest in peace.

Peter Fawkes – A leading light in reviving Racewalking in Scotland. He made many friends and will be missed greatly.

Pamela Abbott – Such sad news. Andrew was so encouraging of those new to racewalking and generous with his time and expertise, and his energy and vision was a major contribution to the revival and success of racewalking in Scotland, such a loss to our community.

Dave Evans – A big shock and he will be greatly missed.

Catherine McGrath – Gosh, that is a shock. Such a lovely man.

Steve Uttley – Very sad news. RIP.

Steve Allen – That’s very sad to hear.

Edmund H Shillabeer – Oh were there more of his ilk!

Alistair Shand – Really shocked & saddened to hear the news about Andrew. We’d always intended to meet-up for a walk on one of my trips ‘back home’ north of the border, but unfortunately – as is so often the case with best-laid intentions – it never happened. However, I always enjoyed our chats at races. Will remember Andrew with great warmth and affection.

Bill and Kath Sutherland – It must be a really tough time for Scotia Race Walking Club and all its members and many friends of Andrew Fraser. He came from a very rare breed and bubbled in enthusiasm in everything he did and with everyone he met. Being privileged to have spent a long weekend with him in Portobello in 2014 I was able to relive the memories of the 1970 Commonwealth Games and my childhood and join Parkrun at scenic Crammond. What a wonderful host he was and he accompanied me to Glasgow for the C G Athletics..Let’s hope the Meadowbank Stadium can now be kept for eternity in his memory. We will all meet again. Rest in Peace.

Tony Bell – Sad news, here I was with Andrew a few years ago showing Callum Wilkinson how to do it 🙂

Greg Smith – Very sorry to hear of Andrew’s passing. He was generous in spirit and in action. The shorts I’m wearing in Linda McDermot’s photos of us (above) in the 2014 NARWA 35kms are Andrew’s — he lent them to me just before the start of the race, when I discovered I’d forgotten to bring mine! Since then I always travel to races with two pairs of shorts in my bag…RIP Andrew.

Richard Cole – Andrew was well-liked and respected. He was always the same: pleasant, an easy-going charm, cheerful and engaging and in love with walking. A real gentleman. Always interested in what you had been doing. I was always pleased to see him in a race and have a chat. Amazed at his dedication and time just getting to the start line. The tributes all reflect the above qualities. A sad loss to walking – when we need him.

Trevor McDermot – describes movingly Andrew’s farewell

There was a significantly large crowd waiting outside for Andrew’s send off in Edinburgh yesterday, testament to his easy charm and ability in making so many, from all walks of life, consider him a warm and close confidant. A lone piper played as the funeral cortege arrived, with coffin draped in the white and blue Saltire. On top of this a single training shoe had been placed.

The packed congregation heard a service prepared by close friends. The reading touched on aspects of a most interesting life, from his early South African days, Rhodes scholarship, Army service with undercover work in the Namibian bush, teaching career and re-settlement in Scotland. His extensive travels as a globetrotter and athlete included the completion of five marathons on five continents and attending the Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ was played after which we heard much more concerning his time among us. A touching tribute followed on behalf of his mother, Moira, who was watching proceedings via video link from thousands of miles away.Rather fittingly, opening bars of the humorously chosen ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ retuned us to South African rhythms, before the kilted piper rendered ‘Amazing Grace’ for the final goodbye

.Laughter and tears. He shall be well remembered.

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5 Responses to Andrew Fraser RIP, standard bearer for Scottish Race Walking

  1. William Mackintosh Saunders SUTH says:

    It must be a really tough time for Scotia Race Walking Club and all its members and many friends of Andrew Fraser. He came from a very rare breed and bubbled in enthusiasm in everything he did and with everyone he met. Being privileged to have spent a long weekend with him in Portobello in 2014 I was able to relive the memories of the 1970 Commonwealth Games and my childhood and join Parkrun at scenic Crammond. What a wonderful host he was and he accompanied me to Glasgow for the C G Athletics..Let’s hope the Meadowbank Stadium can now be kept for eternity in his memory. We will all meet again. Rest in Peace. Bill and Kath Sutherland

  2. Greg Smith says:

    Very sorry to hear of Andrew’s passing. He was generous in spirit and in action. The shorts I’m wearing in Linda McDermot’s photos of us (above) in the 2014 NARWA 35kms are Andrew’s — he lent them to me just before the start of the race, when I discovered I’d forgotten to bring mine! Since then I always travel to races with two pairs of shorts in my bag…RIP Andrew.

  3. Tony Taylor says:

    Thanks, Greg for the revealing story of Andrew’s generosity and lesson learnt! I’ll add to the main post.

  4. Chris says:

    Hi, I have a couple of questions I’d like to ask privately, just wondering if I could get in touch with you, Tony?

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