The Ron Pickering Memorial Award for Services to Athletics winner and long-time AW contributor was 69

Tom McCook, the long-time Birchfield Harriers stalwart and Athletics Weekly contributor, has died aged 69 from a heart attack.

Originally from Inverness, McCook moved to Birmingham and went on to become president of his beloved Birchfield and such was his popularity and impact on the sport he was given the prestigious Ron Pickering Memorial Award for Services to Athletics around a decade ago.

McCook was an ever-present at athletics events, especially at the Alexander Stadium, where he passed on his infectious enthusiasm for the sport with athletes, coaches, spectators and journalists.

The news of his death came as the first day of the Indoor British Championships was drawing to a close and cast a shadow over the weekend for those who knew him.

“A true gent who loved the sport & was a fan to his core. Will be massively missed,” Linford Christie tweeted.

McCook was part of the fabric of Birchfield Harriers – a club that has produced Olympians such as Denise Lewis, Ian Stewart and Katharine Merry.

Merry tweeted: “As vice-president of Birchfield and having known Tom for nearly 30 years, his enthusiasm for the club and athletics was never tested.”

Athletics Weekly editor Jason Henderson added: “Tom was one of AW’s most loyal and enthusiastic contributors and his most recent feature for us – where he told the story of an unsung hero called Bod Atkins – was published only last month.

“It’s hard to think of a friendlier character at British athletics meetings and he never stopped working hard behind the scenes to promote the sport.”

His funeral will be held on March 23 in Perry Barr.

“My Dad’s funeral will be held on Wednesday 23rd March, 2016 at Saint John the Evangelist Church, Church Lane, Perry Barr at 12.30 P.M,” wrote McCook’s daughter, Helen. “We will have a short private committal at the Crematorium afterwards just for family. The wake will be held at the Alexander Stadium in the Birchfield Harriers Clubroom. We suggest that if you want to come to the church, park at the club or in Perry Barr Park and walk over please to avoid congestion of traffic.

“We request family flowers only please. We will be collecting donations for Colitus research and also will be setting up a fund in my Dad’s name to provide under privileged children at Birchfield with running shoes and spikes.

“Please do not wear black. Wear tartan, something colourful or your club tracksuit top. We wish to celebrate the extraordinary life of Tom McCook as best we can.”