Monday, 4 January 2021
Charnwood Athletic Club’s members were deeply saddened to hear of the premature death, on 2nd January, of John Harper.
Charnwood Athletic Club’s members, both past and present, were deeply saddened to hear of the premature death, on 2nd January, of John Harper. As one of the founders, in 1975, and over the 45 years since, John has been a driving force behind the club. Thanks to John’s work hundreds of people, young and old, from Loughborough and the surrounds, have enjoyed sporting experiences and fulfilled ambitions that would otherwise not have been possible.
John and other early members, including Roy Stowell, Dennis Smith and Mike Down were strong and committed distance runners. By taking on management and coaching roles, and encouraging newcomers from the 1980s running boom, membership grew rapidly and with it, success from local to international level. John, however, never lost sight of the aim to build not just a strong running club but a fully fledged athletic club, competitive in all track and field disciplines, and open to all.
Being entirely self-funded (then and now), the club depended on volunteers like John, who spent more than two decades as Secretary and then Chair of the management committee, for its development and success. In the early 1980s John was instrumental to the negotiations between Loughborough University, Charnwood Borough Council and Charnwood AC over the funding of the first, prestige all-weather track at the university and access to it by members of the public, through Charnwood AC. Shortly after, he negotiated the erection of a temporary club house by the track and, later, the building of the current club house. It is largely thanks to John, and with a continued good relationship between the club and university, that thousands of local people have been able to enjoy world class athletic facilities.
As the years took their toll, John’s own running evolved from road and cross country racing and long Sunday runs through the Charnwood countryside, to shorter, early morning runs before Church, and then to weekend rambling. However, he remained involved with officiating at athletic meetings for the club, local athletic associations and schools. John also officiated at numerous disability meetings both locally and nationally. Although we know that John had many community commitments besides our own, he continued in the role of President of Charnwood AC. He could always be relied upon to step in to help if asked, encourage new initiatives and keep an interested and watchful eye on the activities and achievements of club athletes and teams.
John will be greatly missed but always remembered by a grateful club.