Report and photographs by Don Hale
Many long serving and distinguished officials, both past and present, from the world of North Wales athletics were awarded prestigious “Hall of Fame” trophies last week in recognition of their many years of dedicated service to the sport.
In a special Induction ceremony staged last Friday evening at the Eirias Park Sports Stadium in Colwyn Bay and organised by the North Wales Regional Athletics Council (NWRAC), eight nominees and/or their family members were presented with awards to acknowledge their generous voluntary support.
Paul Brooks, the secretary of the NWRAC, who was also the MC for the night, gave the audience some interesting background to this awards presentation, and provided a brief outline to the merits of the recipients, and the reasons for this new “Hall of Fame” honour.
Within his introduction, he confirmed: “During the course of an official’s career in athletics, they are likely to receive awards from Welsh Athletics based on the length of service: Meritorious service after 15 years, and the Award of Honour after 20 years.
“Earlier this year, we discussed the fact that when our long-serving officials and coaches retired from our sport, we felt that a thank you letter was insufficient. We therefore instigated our “Hall of Fame” for those that have left our sport after a minimum of 20 years’ service, and each, and every one of those here tonight have more than met that requirement.
“The Hall of Fame also recognises those that have passed away and we are pleased to welcome the families of those that are sadly no longer with us.”
Paul revealed the Hall of Fame award winners included: Denise and Bernie Harris, Ken Ross (deceased), Sue Sayer (deceased), Neil Dunn (deceased), David Alun Williams (deceased), Gareth Hughes and Bob Frost.
He later summarised the extensive, loyal, and dedicated service of each of the nominees.
“Denise and Bernie Harris: – When I joined Deeside in 1982, Denise and Bernie were already actively involved at the club, both as coaches and officials. They both served on the Clwyd AAA committee at which Bernie was County secretary, and they were regular attendees at our NWRAC meetings.
“Denise also served as club secretary for many years, and they covered several disciplines of our sport as officials. Denise also was involved at national level with Welsh Athletics on the track and field committee.
“Ken Ross (Deceased): Similarly with Ken, he too was already at Deeside when I joined. He was a coach and field event judge, and I had the pleasure of working with him at track and field meetings many times over the years. He was very knowledgeable, and on those occasions, I often asked him for guidance. Like Denise and Bernie, he gave a lifetime of service to our sport. To accept the award are his son Rob, and daughter Debbie.
“Sue Sayer (deceased): Sue had a long association with Deeside and was chair for much of that time, and she was also a former chair of NWRAC. She acted as meeting manager for track and field events, she was Welsh team manager for multi-events, and vice president and ultimately president of Welsh Athletics. Ivor, her husband did not wish to attend tonight, so I will have the award delivered.
“Neil Dunn (deceased): Neil and I were in a group that trained together at Deeside in the eighties, before he left to join Dee Striders, where he served as club secretary for many years, representing the club at both Clwyd AAA and NWRAC. Neil was also a coach, and I have to mention that having had a transplant, he continued to train himself, and won several medals at the Transplant World Games. Here to accept the award is his son Mark and daughter Kerry Woolrich.
“David A. Williams (deceased): David was often a reference point for anything to do with cross country due to his long association with the North Wales League, but he also gave many, many years of service to Wrexham as chair. David was another that represented his club with his attendance at Clwyd and NWRAC meetings over the years and was our national representative on the rules and eligibility committee. Here to receive the award is his daughter Llinos.
“Gareth Hughes: Gareth is another who gave long, long service to his club, Prestatyn, as secretary and he also represented them on both Clwyd AAA and NWRAC. At the latter, he was also vice-chair and chair. He also wrote a weekly column on athletics for the Daily Post for many years.
“He was also directly responsible for bringing major events to North Wales, including the Welsh championships and British Masters championships for cross country, and he was heavily involved in our regional championships for that discipline.
“Bob Frost: Bob is recovering from a knee operation, and can’t be with us tonight, so I visited him at home to give him his award. Bob was club secretary at Wrexham for many years and is another that attended Clwyd and NWRAC meetings. He was literally the voice of the club, commentating at the track and field meetings at the Queensway.”
Following the ceremony, refreshments were served prior to their NWRAC meeting, where special commemorative photographs were taken.