Athletics greats and volunteers honoured

Former AW editor Mel Watman among 2013 Hall of Fame inductees at England Athletics awards ceremony in Birmingham

Posted on October 20, 2013 by
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Mel Watman at England Athletics awards 2013 (Picture credit: Mark Shearman)

Former editor of Athletics Weekly Mel Watman was one of nine athletics greats inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Birmingham on Saturday evening, as volunteers from clubs across England were also honoured.

The awards night - supported by Athletics Weekly, Sweatshop and the Amateur Athletic Association – saw athletics greats join coaches, officials and other volunteers at the Hilton Metropole at Birmingham’s NEC for the sixth edition of this annual event.

European and Commonwealth 400m hurdles gold medallist Alan Pascoe was the first to be inducted into England Athletics’ 2013 Hall of Fame. His high-level of consistency as an athlete was recognised as he joined the ‘Class of 2013′, as was his contribution through other work including sports promotion.

Sheila Lerwill, Sir Ludwig Guttmann, Diane Leather and Jim Peters were the next to join Pascoe in receiving the Hall of Fame honour. Lerwill, who broke the high jump world record in 1951,  joked on collecting her award that she could have gone higher than her 1.72m lifetime best had Dick Fosbury been around to develop the ‘Fosbury Flop’ technique while she was still competing. “If only he’d been around in my day I reckon I could have gone a bit higher!” said the 85-year-old.

Eva Loeffler, the daughter of Paralympic pioneer Guttmann, collected the award on his behalf and commented how in 1960 her father had said he dreamed of the time when disabled athletes would take part in the Olympic Games. On the London 2012 Games, she added: “I think everyone realised how wonderful the work was that he had started.”

Jack Holden, Don Thompson and Gordon Pirie were also revealed as Hall of Fame inductees before Watman took to the stage to accept his award. Still probably best known for being editor of AW from 1968-1986, Watman – pictured above with Ann Brightwell (née Packer), the 1964 Olympic 800m champion, with her husband and former GB athletics team captain Robbie Brightwell - is a legendary athletics guru and has been covering the sport for the past 60 years and has also produced more than 30 books.

As part of the ceremony and prior to the Hall of Fame inductions, special recognition was made to the contributions of Jean Pickering who passed away earlier this year. Jean’s daughter Kim received the Services to Athletics award on her mother’s behalf  in recognition of Jean’s work and the work of the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, with Jean herself inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.

Others honoured at the national volunteer awards included Peter Shilling, Official of the Year and Ben Penberthy who received his award for Services to Officiating. The Young Volunteer of the Year award went to Tannika Burgess, while Mark and Dawn Hookway were awarded Services to Volunteering. The Development Club of Year award was presented to Bristol & West AC, the Athletics Network of Year was revealed as Essex Athletics Network and Norma Harris was named as a popular winner of the Development Coach award. Carol Jackson received the award for Services to Coaching.

For more information on the volunteers who received the national title in their category click here.

A Hall of Fame panel of experts had met in the run-up to the 2013 wave of inductions, but England Athletics also encouraged athletes, coaches, officials and fans to vote and these had been registered over the past few months via the England Athletics website.

The national volunteer award contenders, meanwhile, emerged following a series of regional awards earlier this year.

» For more on the England Athletics Hall of Fame and volunteer awards see englandathletics.org, while more in-depth coverage will be found in the October 24 issue of AW

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