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Obituaries 2020

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Centurions who have passed away will always live on in our memories.....
This page is dedicated to Centurions around the world and their achievement of walking 100 miles in 24 hours
This has been a particular sad year as several Centurions have passed away.

Merv Lockyear
Australian Centurion No 30

We are sorry to be told of Australian Centurion No 30 Merv Lockyear passing-on aged 89.
George became the Australian Centurions' oldest qualifier - aged 65 in October 1996 at George Knott Athletics Field (Victoria State) when clocking 23:45.51.
In the UK Essex Walker, Sue Clements (Australian Centurion No 35) writes: “Merv and I corresponded for many years after I qualified in Melbourne. His excellent support and gentle but persistent encouragement was the most significant contribution to my success. Remembered with fondness and gratitude.

Peter Ryan C934

Writes Dave Ainsworth: The news we've been expecting from Woking Hospice has so sadly come to pass.  Last night Pete watched the football on television (he was a keen football follower) and, after going to sleep, failed to rise this morning - having passed away peacefully during the night.  He last days saw him greatly heartened by the receipt of so many messages, letters and cards. Sorry to be the bearer of such sad news. One never to be forgotten!
Pete made it to number 3 in the National Race Walking Rankings at 50k with a clocking of 4hrs 18mins in 1982 but be was to leave the sport for about 15yrs before returning in the late 1990s and achieving some remarkable performances as a veteran on the UK and International stage. For instance, he was twice winner of the walking section of the Honolulu Marathon and broke 4hrs to win the walking section at the Berlin marathon. Yet his most memorable achievement has to be winning the 100 miles at Newmarket whilst pushing himself to the absolute limit and finally gaining international recognition with selection for the English team for the Roubaix 28 hr walk in France.

Tributes from fellow Centurions
How very sad indeed; this photo was taken only 3 years ago this very weekend.  Pete travelled the country competing, this was the Forres Harriers 10k event from Brodie Castle and I was the lead cyclist. The previous year Pete turned up at the Glen Moray (distillery) 10k.  I was timekeeping and looked up in time to see an ‘old school’ race walker finishing.  Turned out to be Pete whom I had not seen for years. Great bloke. Alex Ross

How much more awful news will it be your lot to share?   I had no idea Peter was ill although I had wondered where he was having not heard from him for some time.  My Centurion qualification will always be linked with Pete's.  He finished with a phenomenal lilt to port, or starboard, I forgot which.  But it was an amazing weekend.  Cath Duhig
Very sad.  I met and had coffee with Peter afterwards at Littlehampton Parkrun last year having previously met and chatted with him at the International cross Country in Edinburgh's Hollyrood Park in 2017.  A fine walker in his day and a really nice bloke.  Alan Buchanan
This is indeed sad news.   And even sadder that he can't have had visitors.  I remember hin from his momentous 2003 100 mile championship in Newmarket where he won despite his severe list. Pete also went to Roubaix to compete in the28 hour race. Kathy Crilley
Sadly, another longstanding race-walker will be with us no longer.  We are getting thin on the ground with few younger replacements.  Richard Cole
Very sad news.  Please send my condolences.  Your health is your wealth!   Angus Browne  
This is the saddest news.  I have only fond memories of Peter, can't believe his passing away...Neringa Masilioniene
Simply dreadful news.  I didn't even know Pete was unwell.   Steve Uttley
What incredibly sad news.  Oliver Flynn
Very sad to read this.  Bloody Pancreatic Cancer!  Hilary McDermott
Very sad news indeed.  I only saw him at his twin brother's funeral last year.  Helen Elleker
Very sad news indeed to hear of Peter Ryan.  He is one of our favourite race walking friends.  A fierce competitor who always gave his all!   We have some fond memories of him and Denis Sheppard on the Phil Collins coach trips for the annual Chippenham to Calne at this time of year.  He was a true loyal supporter of 'real race walking' - not what we frequently witness at International level nowadays.  Bill and Kath Sutherland
It is so sad that he has been stricken with this dreadful illness.  Pete was a great character and enjoyed race walk/sports chat.  Peter Selby
Very sad. Steve Till
Very sad news.  Peter, a sportsman and a gentleman, great sense of humour who says things as he sees it, great company and always a real pleasure to meet up with, a privilege to able to call a friend.  It was fantastic to see him achieve one of his goals at the National 100 mile Championship a few years ago with a typical brave performance.  Mark Williams
Very sad to hear of this tremendous endurance athlete, always a great support.   Kevin Marshall  
I was on duty at Newmarket when Peter became Centurion No.984.  It was a very gutsy performance, during the latter stages he developed a very severe lean to the right.  he competed in many Police and masters events, always very competitive.  So many memories!   Eric Horwill  
My thoughts and prayers are of and with him. Geoff Hunwicks
Sad news indeed.  Len Ruddock
So sorry to hear this.  I last bumped into Pete during preparations for the 2017 World Athletics Championships walks.  He was helping to set up one of the drinks stations and I would be live race commentating on The Mall later that day.  It was while strolling by Buckingham Palace enjoying the sunshine that I was snapped out of my daydream by a loud friendly abusive shout from a familiar Yorkshire voice.  I turned and spotted the toothy grin of Pete Ryan, clearly pleased with his witty comment.   It was a pleasure to see him, as it always was over the previous 40 odd years.  Chris Maddocks
More sad news - he was a nice guy.  Gary Smith
Very sad.  Hopefully the messages will have brought him some comfort.  Irene & Mike Bateman
His presence will be sorely missed by the race walking community, at home and abroad. Tony Taylor.
Sorry to hear this.  Pretty young age to lose his life, condolences to his Pete's family and all at Ilford AC, sounds like a very talented race walker and a nice guy.  Tom Goldsmith (Time FM Radio)
So sorry to hear the news.  I remember he was the only winner of the Steve Gower 20 mile Memorial Race. Jeanette Street
Pete arrived on the Ilford AC running scene with us a few years' ago and he did several East London 5s (ELVIS) events and indeed pushed me very close.  Andy Catton
Another great loss to our diminshing band of walkers.   We remember good trips we had with him. Ron Penfold
He packed an amazing palmary into a relatively short life.  An example in many ways for us to aspire.  Ciao.  Roger Mills
Sad news indeed.  RIP, never to be forgotten. Sandra Brown
So sorry to hear this.  Nicola Hopkinson
In recent times, one of my journalistic gigs was following Woking FC.  Peter was a letter day supporter, and we conversed by mail etc., about the Cards, as they were known.  He was an affable, friendly and a tough competitor, and therefore sadly missed.  Paul Warburton.

George Beecham MBE  C.716

Centurion, Carl Lawton, informed the British Centurion family  on 14thSeptember of the sad news of George's death.

George Beecham MBE was a Life Member of Belgrave Harriers, a member for 69 years, who sadly passed away at the age of 89 after a long illness from cancer.
George competed at Race Walking at all distances and was a winner of the Hastings to Brighton and was also Centurion 716.
He was well known in Canvey Island for his charity work for which he received his MBE.
As a youngster George suffered from asthma. When he was eighteen he decided to take up race walking to help improve his health. He had continued doing that and similar activities in a very serious way ever since. As a young man he represented his county of Surrey as well as Great Britain in race walking.
In 1957, aged 28, he came third in a Belgian race won by Don Thompson, the only British man to win a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics. The following year he came first in the tough Hastings to
Brighton race which is 38.5 miles over the rolling Seven Sisters hills. When he took part in the London to Brighton race in 1951 he came fourth.
George scored 3 times for the winning  Bels National 50kms team- in 1957 (2nd scorer), 1960 (1st scorer - in 5th place) & 1961 (3rd scorer).  He was also in Belgrave's winning team in the 1954 RWA National 20 Miles (4th scorer).
Since then he has walked many marathons and in 1981 he first took part in the 24 hour  track race at Brighton in very wet conditions and passing the 100mile point to become Centurion 716. in 22hrs  45m 12s and continuing to complete 104m 557yds.
In later years he was an athletics coach who helped train Commonwealth gold medal winner Dean Macey
George, who had lived on  Canvey Island for many years, had worked tirelessly to raise money for charity and promote sport among young islanders.
He was one of the founders of the Canvey Athletics Club, and had run in many London Marathons –
George was born in Hackney in 1931 but moved to Surrey during the Blitz.
He married his wife, Marlene, in 1957 and the couple moved back to London before settling on Canvey in 1963, with daughter, Catherine.
George continued to work as a Post Office engineer, but became involved in the  fundraising branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute on Canvey and had been chairman.
As well as the marathons George took part in many of the annual Nijmegen, Holland, four-day 200km  marches, with up to 45000 competitors, raising funds for Canvey charities, while his marathons have raised thousands for asthma charities and the RNLI.
Despite ill health for many years George has always fought through it with great courage and determination. Although Canvey Island was his home Belgrave was always in his heart.
left images from George's races

From friend  and fellow Centurion , Steve Kemp..
Sadly George passed away last evening at home. George's health had deteriorated since about March and especially so over the last month. His wife Marlene and daughter Katherine were with George when he passed way. Not sure that I can quite believe it, George has always bounced back from everything thrown at him, some may recall how poorly he was yards ago when he met us on our trek around Canvey, yet he bounced back attending social walks and AGMs until a few months ago. There will not  be a funeral. The family are making private arrangements.  Kind regards,  Steve

More tributes to George from the race walking world

With the passing of George BEECHAM, Belgrave has lost a walker who had a unique record.  Joining the Club in 1950 serving his apprenticeship as the RWA introduced the 1 hour races to give awards based on the distance covered.  At the same time a Junior event over 5 miles was introduced with George in the Belgrave team and it was then we heard that in preparation he had walked from his home in Sutton to Brighton for a work out!  Soon he was selected for the National Ten at Stockport where he was in the third placed team - the first placing for some years.   Within in a few years he found a liking for the longer distances.  One name in particular appears with Beecham - Nijmegen.  In 1923 a British group had taken part in a then famed Dutch Walk in Nijmegen and were presented with an award which was adopted by the RWA for the first club team finishing all 8 men in the National 20 miles championship.  Belgrave, won over the years, the Nijmegen Trophy several times, few Clubs recorded more than three occasions.   George was a member of the Belgrave winning team on 8 occasions.   That trophy is no longer competed for but  George went to Holland to take part in the original marches on at least 17 occasions covering 55kms a day for four days.
George worked tirelessly for our sport and as an example it was usual to see him doing a walk round the course for the Nicola 5 held on Canvey, then probably racing in the event and clearing up afterwards.  Over the years we always parted by agreeing that we had competed in the best of years, having the best of times with the best of Clubs - RIP George.  Eric Hall  (Belgrave)

Thanks, Carl, and sorry to hear the news. Paul Warburton, Belgrave

Another warrior down. I remember George, but not well, as a cheerful chap, but then I was a funny runner and not one of the walking brethren.  John Thresher (Belgrave)

What sad news indeed.  I recall George on many Centurion social walks, that he turned up and walked with us, showed tremendous strength of character.   Kathy Crilley

I only met George once at an event on Canvey Island, about everything genteel years ago, obviously a staunch Belgravian. RIP. Regards. Lionel.Mann  Belgrave H
We are sorry to hear this very sad news. It was a great pleasure and an honour to know George. George was a true Centurion, very proud of his membership, and we greatly enjoyed his company on the Centurions’ Canvey Island social walk – a very good walk made all the more memorable and special by George joining us there. It’s excellent that George gave the Centurions some wonderful photographs and press cuttings – these were added to our official archive at the Surrey county archives and will be a permanent and treasured tribute to his memory. Our kind regards, Sandra C735 and Richard  Brown C760

Sad news re death of George Beecham R.I.P M.B.E. A walkers walker who was everything good about our sport not forgetting Marlene who gave him great support over many years, this was a guy you could look up to as a team member none better who did it all with great pride in a club he was so proud of. We will miss dear friend   Ray Middleton

Much sadness on the passing of a great character.  He regularly attended the Met Police Walking Club annual reunion and dinner, and he was such a loyal supporter of the Centurions.  He really will be missed, and all condolences to his family.
In sadness, Chris Flint

We are really sorry and sad to hear of the passing of George Beecham MBE a truly remarkable Centurion 716 achieved on the track at Brighton in pouring rain throughout. He was an extraordinary Clubman with Belgrave Harriers and a great team walker of a very high standard during the Golden Years of GB Race Walking. Being my handler in the Ewhurst 100 Miles when I qualified as a Centurion 890 we hold him and his family in the highest esteem.  May he Rest in Peace.   He will be massively missed by all who knew him. With sincere condolences, Bill and Kath Sutherland, BEM

Sad news and a great loss.  Andy O'Rawe
Very sorry to hear this. What a character and what an achiever. Always good company on the strolls. I have made enquiries about his Nijmegen exploits and will report back anything I hear. Dave Hoben
A lovely man, always cheerful,  and greeted you like an old friend, which I suppose we were.   Alex Ross
Whenever I met him he always gave me a really warm greeting.   John Eddershaw
George was a very nice man, and I considered him the essence of race walking.   Best wishes   John Webb

The Canvey Island website have dedicated pages to many notable Canvey Islanders -
a great tribute to our dear friend George

John Dunsford C734

From Carl Lawton (Belgrave H) : It is with regret that I have been informed, by daughter Wendy, that long time Belgrave Member John Dunsford  died on 16 August after a long illness, aged 87. John had been a member since 1970.
He was one of our regular race walking team members throughout the 70's and 80's over all distances, representing both Belgrave and Middlesex.  He competed London to Brighton, Hastings to Brighton, Plymouth to Dawlish amongst others and in 1982 became Centurion 734 at his first attempt at the Leicester 100 miles (22:12.40) regularly supported by wife Barbara and the camper van.
In later years he travelled the world  in the Vets events.
He leaves wife Barbara and children Jonathan, Wendy and Barbara Junior.

  • This is sad news.  I hadn’t seen John (or Barbara) for a good number of years since the Vets races of yesteryear.  Kathy Crilley
  • Very sad news.  We remember John with admiration and fondness, as a loyal Centurion and Belgrave club member, a family man and a genial and friendly colleague.  John was just 6 minutes ahead of me when we both qualified as Centurions in Leicester, 1982 – we became C734 and C735.  I remember him well from many subsequent races and Centurion events over the years.  Our sincere condolences to Barbara and the family.  Sandra and Richard Brown  C735, C760
  • A sad passing of another RW stalwart.  He was there or thereabouts against me in many races of my era.   Len Ruddock
  • That camper van carted us hither and thither back in the day.   I almost got the taste for camping, well, nearly.   I liked John.   He was encouraging and a real stalwart of the scene.   Paul Warburton
  • Sad news.   Chris Maddocks
  • When he couldn't manage race walking any longer he turned to putting the shot in order to keep competing and only in recent years did his appearances in every World Masters Championship end.  John Hall
  • John was evacuated in the war and ended up at the school at which I taught, much later, of course!    Cath Duhig
  • from Laurie Kelly:
    A little more history regarding John is that he was a member of Wigmore Harriers before joining up with Bells which is where I first met him in the early 1950's.   He was also a firm supporter of the London Business Houses (LBH) and was a Vice President of the Athletics Section. He was also a regular timekeeper at the Middlesex Road and X/C meetings.  Incidentally I was not aware of Dennis Jones passing on.  He too was a firm supporter of the LBH and was still turning out with the London Underground X/C  & Road teams until quite recently.

Doug Hopkins C347 1939-2020
Doug died, 6th July 2020, at home after suffering from cancer of the brain and other related causes. He was 81.
He became a Centurion at a relatively young age, Gibraltar champion and several  times Kent Champion.  At Medway Athletics Club, formally Rochester and laterally Medway and Maidstone AC he served as a initial coach to the most eclectic bunch of walkers as Cameron Corbishley, Gordon Beatie, Di Pegg (Bullard), Steve Holiday, Chris Hobbs, Tim Hayes, Rod Parkins and many others.
Writes Dave Ainsworth:
Popular Chatham-based Doug Hopkins was Centurion No.347, qualifying when aged 23 in the colours of London Vidarians at the 1963 Brighton-to-London-and-Back clocking 22:24.10.  1963 was the only year where this journey was reversed - starting and finishing in Brighton. Doug was one of 6 London Vidarians to qualify that day.   Doug raced for London Vidarians and then Medway AC, which in 2001 was part of a merger which saw Medway & Maidstone AC appear on our scene.  Doug put much back into our sport after he'd hung up his racing shoes, by qualifying as a Judge and accepting many appointments.  He'd only recently stepped down from judging.  He was a loyal supporter of Kent County AA fixtures for decades.

George Audley (C22): 1935-2020
From Tim Erickson
Sadly, I must report the death of another one of our Australian Centurions, with the passing of George Audley (C22). After living for many years in Perth, George had moved back to Birmingham, England, some years ago to spend his remaining years with his family. George passed away on Sunday 28th June 2020 at the age of 84, at  home in Birmingham.
read more on George in Tim's  obituary
While George has now passed on, his memory will live on, both to hs fellow Australian Centurions and to the wider Australian ultra distance community

Deryck Skinner (C51): 1932-2020
From Tim Erickson
Australian Centurion Deryck Skinner (C51), who walked his 100 mile qualifier in 2005 in 22:39:55 at the Santos Stadium in Adelaide. Deryck died in Adelaide on Tuesday 19th May 2020, aged 87.
At 72 years of age, Deryck was the oldest Australian to earn his Australian Centurion badge. He went on to finish 3 further hundreds in the next 2 years and set a series of M70 and M75 records that will take some beating
He will be sadly missed by us all

C599 Ann Sayer MBE   1936-2020
Sadly,  Ann passed away on 15 April 2020 from Coronavirus COVID-19.  
Ann has done much for long distance walking over the years through her work for the Brotherhood of Centurions and the UK's Long Distance Walking Association (LDWA).
After completing a 100 mile walks in the annual LDWA Hundred Ann then sought another challenge - actually race walking a 100 miles in 24 hours.
Read more on Ann's amazing sporting career

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