Hartlepool athletics stalwart, aged 102, championed after sports clubs backer is recognised by Queen
A 102-year-old who dedicated decades to helping the next generation of runners has been recognised as part of a royal award.
Alf Walsh began offering his support as an athletics timekeeper in the 1960s, after his son took up the sport through the Burn Road Harriers.
But while Alf Jnr’s interest in running waned, his father’s involvement grew, leading him to travel the country as he put his skills to use through the National Association of Boys and Girls Clubs (NABGC).
It has noted Alf among its its list of “glittering past and present luminaries” as it celebrates the achievement, with the North East association the first of the affiliated full member of the national association to be presented with the title.
Granddad-of-two and great-granddad-of-one Alf, who helped run national athletics and cross country events for many years, was given the good news by his 74-year-old son.
Like many, the pandemic has been hard for the family, with Alf making a recovery from Covid, and his loved ones are now able to see him more often.
Alf Jnr, who is married to Hilary, 74, said ahead of the announcement: “He will be delighted.
"He used to go to all these athletics meetings all over.
"He absolutely loved being involved.”
Alf, who was widowed 35 years ago when wife Lillian died, now lives in the Rossmere Care Home in Hartlepool.
He was the DABGC’s first centenarian and his official links with the Harriers ended when he reached his 100th birthday and stepped down as their honorary life president, having last officiated at an event four years earlier.
Others who have also been supported DABGC include Savannah Marshall, who trained with Hartlepool Headland ABC in her younger days, and is Britain’s first women’s world boxing champion, a Commonwealth gold medallist and an Olympian.
The organisation, launched in 1933, is supported by three part-time members of staff and a volunteer network of 600 young leaders and coaches to plan, deliver and support a wide range of physical activities and sports programme to more than 5,000 young people, aged between eight and 21, who attend the 75 clubs in the association.