Tuesday 17th August, 2021 was a dark day for Royal Sutton Coldfield Athletics Club and in particular for the older generation of our club members both past and present.
Roy, as was usual, taking his training group out on a ‘warm up’ enjoying the scenery in Sutton Park when he suddenly collapsed. Despite ambulance, police and the calling in of Midlands Air Ambulance attending to Roy, who had had a heart attack, they were all unable to save him and he passed away without pain or discomfort, doing something he loved doing.
On the following training night, a very sombre and shocked group of senior runners met outside the clubhouse, trying to understand and accept what had happened and were joined by Roy’s children John and Jo. Shortly afterwards a group of about 40 or so athletes went out through the park to the place where Roy had collapsed, to pay their final respects.
The news of Roy’s passing quickly spread near and far, and enjoyable stories were being relaid by his colleagues.
Roy had joined the club back in 1987 aged 44, competing in both Cross Country and Track and Field (Vets section), but since reaching 70 years of age, he became a permanent fixture in both the Masters and Veterans team competing in a wide range of events from 200m up to 3000m, and took part in the 2k walk to earn valuable points for the club. Since reaching 75 years of age, he currently holds 4 club records in 100m and 200m, Triple Jump and Shot Putt. As late as the week before his untimely death, Roy had taken part in a Vets Track and Field competition at Burton, participating in a sprint event as well as throwing again to earn the club valuable points.
He was always keen for members of his squad to take part in the Vets league. He even completed in the London marathon, back in 2009, achieving a time of 3hours 22mins.38sec (an excellent time for a 66 year old). Another of his attributes was to introduce new events to the club such as the Shugborough Relays (now known as Stafford Relays), and introduced a Grand Prix series to the senior athletes to include a wide range of different distance events in the locality.
He was a committed team manager for the ladies Cross Country team – persuading lady members of his group to take part no matter about their level of keenness, frequently involving picking them up from their homes to ensure they took part and generally arrived at each fixture with a car full. Recently, his team of girls achieved promotion to Division 1 of the Birmingham and District, probably the highlight of his job as team manager. He would listen to all their moans and groans about how cold/wet/hilly/muddy it was going to be and yet still he was able to run around the course shouting encouraging words for his athletes, regardless of what weather conditions prevailed at the time. It was Roy who took on the responsibility of ensuring the girls were at the start line in good time, carrying all their valuables whilst they raced, and everything he did was much appreciated by his girls. From their prospective, cross country won’t be the same, but the team will always have that voice in the back of their minds, encouraging them to keep going no matter how tough the going is.
Roy enjoyed other activities including cycling where he would join other like-minded athletes to take part in another sport, whilst recovering from other injuries. Long before he joined RSCAC he was a member of North Birmingham CTC cycling two or three times a week, doing as much as 50 to 60 miles each trip at a very respectable pace. He led rides regularly and as a result became a stalwart of the cycling scene. A matter of a few days before his untimely death, he led a club ride with no let up in his level of pace.
He was also a keen golfer where he played regularly at Seedy Mill Golf Course in Lichfield, where hitting a ball over 200 yards was not a problem to him.
Even with all these hobbies of his, Roy still found time to have an interest in classic cars and restoring them where needed.
He was a devoted family man and a devoted grandad. The club and particularly his cross country girls, his training squad, and his fellow cyclists will miss him a great deal.
He will be cremated at Sutton Crematorium, Tamworth Road, Sutton Coldfield on Tuesday 14th September, 2021 at 12.15pm