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West Norfolk athletics scene loses one of its finest

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The West Norfolk athletics scene has lost one of its finest, with the recent passing of John Bray.

John will be missed by all of his teammates, past and present at West Norfolk Athletic Club and also by many friends in Ryston Runners.

That’s not forgetting the wider athletics community where he was very well known and highly respected.

Athletics stalwart John Bray. (45711129)
Athletics stalwart John Bray. (45711129)

Quite simply, John did everything for the club over many many years.

This included being an active West Norfolk AC club member from before the opening of Lynnsport.

He officiated, coached, drove the team bus, managed the teams and was club treasurer for longer than most can remember. At times, John ran the club almost single-handedly.

John was also a fierce and talented competitor himself, holding club records in a diverse range of events including shot put, javelin, high jump, 400m, pole vault and the decathlon, an event in which he became Norfolk champion.

He loved the London Marathon, which he ran on four occasions from 1985 to 2004, with a best of just over three hours.

In one year he completed despite a serious injury just 200 yards short of the finish.

John, being the competitor he was, hobbled over the line despite being in a lot of pain and barely able to walk.

He would do anything for others or for good causes and to keep the club afloat.

This included driving the minibus throughout the night for the Round Norfolk Relay and helping to establish the Race for Life at Houghton Hall.

John was a real all-rounder; timekeeping one day, coaching the finer points of a long jump take off the next, and then putting in the hard miles in preparation for a marathon.

He was known for his smile and sense of humour and for keeping his cool when others were losing theirs.

It’s fair to say John was one of the nicest people you will ever meet and West Norfolk AC was privileged to have him as a member.

In latter years and, despite illness, he never lost his love of athletics and was proud to watch his grandsons Wilf and Henry run. Both now train and compete for the club.

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