Just over a year ago we were mourning the loss of Paul Nihill, a giant of our sport. In 2021 we witnessed the deaths of other major figures, Bernard Kannenberg and Gerhard Weidner from West Germany, Vladimir Golubnichy and, easily missed, Rudy Haluza of the Essex Beagles and the USA, who finished 4th in the 1968 Olympics.
We witnessed the passing of too many stalwarts closer to home. Thanks to Dave Ainsworth for much of this information.
Derek Appleton C868 [Folkestone AC]
John Barraclough C382 [Yorkshire RWC]
Fred Baker C266 [Highgate Harriers]
Graham Peddle C605 [Surrey WC]
John Price C214 [Birmingham WC]
Peter Goodchild C471 [Surrey WC]
George Towers [Leicester WC]
Wally Emery [TrowbridgeAC]
Philip Prashner [Loughton AC]
Bill Garrett [Ilford AC]
John Brock [Southend AC]
Dave Stevens [Steyning AC]
Jim Ellis [Yorkshire RWC]
Andrew Fraser [Yorkshire RWC and Scotia RWC]
Jack Clifton [Met Police WC]
Len Armstrong ]Redcar WC]
Derek Hayward [English Schools]
And as 2022 dawns we hear that Geoff Hunwicks has recently died.
Dave Ainsworth writes:
Race walking is mourning the loss of one of their leading members from past decades. While a hospital patient after a lengthy period of illness, Geoff Hunwicks passed away at the age of 71.
In Ilford’s colours he was part of their team – along with Roger Mills and Brian Armstrong, who won the 1968 National Junior 5 Miles Championship at Little Hulton in Salford. Geoff’s success saw him awarded a GB International vest at junior level. Success followed success and in 1975 at Southwick, Geoff was part of Ilford’s team which won the Club’s first ever Senior Walking Championship, over 10 miles, the other members being Roger Mills and late athletes Steve Gower and Lew Mockett. He was a regular competitor in Essex representative teams winning the Essex 50 Kilometres’ Championship twice in succession – 1976/77. He served as the Club’s Hon.Press Officer for a spell in the ’70s, submitting many reports to the Ilford Recorder and the long since defunct Ilford Pictorial. He participated in both running and race walking events and was active on the Club’s social scene.
When leaving Ilford he relocated to Weymouth where he turned out for Weymouth St.Paul’s Harriers, and held Club offices.. He was also an organiser as, along with the late Harry Callow, staged well supported races along the town’s seafront. He then emigrated to The Gambia to run “The Gambian Home For Children With Learning Difficulties”, a managerial position he held until his sad demise.
He was involved in many sports and activities. He enjoyed success as a chess player, reaching County standard and was involved in competitive league skittles, which he took most seriously, to a high level and could always hold his own at the snooker table. He also stepped out into the ballroom on a number of occasions.
Geoff goes back a long way and is fondly remembered up in Lancashire. Indeed our paths first crossed when I was spectating at the 1968 National Junior and Youth Championships, held in Little Hulton. Manchester. In the Junior 5 Roger Mills was victorious and led Ilford to the team victory, backed up by Brian Armstrong and Geoff.
The story of his work in Gambia is remarkable and moving.
Hart House, a home for children with learning difficulties and disabilities, is a “purpose built” 2 storey building (25 by 14 metres) which was completed around the summer of 2002, financed by its English C.E.O. Mr. Geoff Hunwicks, who sold his family home to move to The Gambia to live there and set up the project (which was partly financed by him for sustainability and development in the difficult years). The home is the first and only one of its kind in The Gambia, situated 20 km from the capital of Banjul and 6 km from the airport.
Geoff had over 30 years experience in this area with all ages and types of learning difficulties especially the severe/profound as well as practicing holistic massage therapy. He worked as a volunteer in Bethlehem for 2 years in a similar home.
As things stand, following Geoff’s tragic death, the home has been forced to close and it’s not clear if it will reopen.
See https://www.harthouse.net/ to keep up with further information.
Geoff was also my best man when I got married,and regularly stayed at my parents house before I got married.
I also stayed at his parents home on many occasions both for racing weekends and while studying in London.