Founded in 1869

Denis Lawrie

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Last updated 26 March 2011

Denis Lawrie President for 2011/12

Denis McLean Lawrie, Member of the Clan Gordon.

Born 10th November 1946, in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. 2nd youngest of a family of 5 and spent his formative years living the country lifestyle in the fast developing new town of Glenrothes.  His main sporting activities at school were football and tennis, representing the school at inter-school competitions, though not to a particularly high standard. He left school at the age of 15 years but continued his education with a pre-apprenticeship course at Kirkcaldy Technical College and later, during his police service, he studied part-time at the University of London, where he obtained a Law degree.

At the age of 19 years he successfully applied to join Fife Constabulary and served as a uniform constable in Cowdenbeath (a coal mining town) and Methil (a commercial port).

In 1970 he married Hazel in Fife and, a few months later, he dragged her, (kicking and screaming) down to London when, in 1971 – he transferred to Metropolitan Police. He served as constable in the East End of London then, on promotion to sergeant, was posted to Bow Street Police Station in Covent Garden. As a sergeant he was employed on the ‘Clubs & Vice’ section in the West End. Later, on promotion to Inspector, he served at Carter Street Police Station in south London and on the Obscene Publications Branch (otherwise known as “Dirty Books”) at New Scotland Yard. He later lead the investigation into a major Paedophile group.

In 1984, following his promotion to Chief Inspector, he served on a central London Vice Unit; then on to the Royalty & Diplomatic Protection Department, with special responsibility for Downing Street during the premiership of Lady Margaret Thatcher. He finished his service as the Divisional Superintendent at Belgravia Police Station he then retired from the Police Service. “Having spent over 32 years as a police officer I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of work, never knowing what challenges the next day or shift would bring”.

In February 1998, having done the ‘Knowledge of London’ before he retired from the police, Denis became a self employed Licensed London Cab driver. He thoroughly enjoys working for himself and never knowing who will get into his cab next. “Most people are very chatty, whether they be well-known personalities or just ordinary people”. Among the famous passengers he still ‘namedrops’ from time to time are Joan Collins; Brit Ekland; Jill St John; Sir Robin Day; Anne Widdecombe; Richard Wilson and Alan Rickman – to name but a few! He still drives his cab on a part-time basis.

Like many others he was a spectator at the first London Marathon in 1981 which gave him the incentive to start running. At the time he was a Police Inspector in the Obscene Publications Branch at New Scotland Yard. During one of Denis’s regular debriefs at the Buckingham Arms Public House, Denis, fellow club member and VP Dick Griffin, and a couple of their colleagues learned that the son of another member of staff had recently been diagnosed as having Muscular Dystrophy. The four of them resolved to run the next London Marathon to raise funds for the MD charity. As a consequence he did his first marathon in 1982 and finished in a time of 3hrs 58 mins. Since then has completed 41 other marathons including 12 other Londons, Edinburgh, Seven Sisters (several), New Forest, the Peoples Marathon, Disney, New York, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona and the Marathon du Medoc (for professional reasons as a member of the Wine Committee!). His best time for a marathon is 3hrs 17 mins, achieved in 1987, the same year he joined Blackheath Harriers.

Whilst training with Dick Griffin, for the 1987 London Marathon, he was running through the snow towards Poll Hill when Mike Gasson came alongside them and began to chat. As a consequence he came down to BH within the next couple of weeks and that was the start of his membership.

In 1991 he took over as Assistant Treasurer (Membership) from Mike Peel and, for the next 12 years or so, maintained the membership database, sent out all the reminders and did all the work that is required in relation to the club membership.

In 1996 Denis was made a Vice President by then President David White.

In 2003 Denis passed over running the membership section to Ray Gibson and then he became a member of the House & Social Committee (otherwise known as the Wine committee), then, in 2006 he volunteered to become Chair of House & Social, which he ran until 2009. Throughout his time on the Wine Committee he has regularly served on bar duty as well as chairing and attending various meetings as H & S rep.

Now readily admits to being a ‘Social runner’ although he does have an entry for this year’s London (which he probably wont be fit enough to use).

Denis has played golf to a reasonable standard since he was a teenager and now plays regularly, mainly at Sundridge Park G C, where he is a member with a handicap of 12. He also plays with the Met Police ‘Pilgrims Golf Society’ as well as the Blackheath & Bromley Golf Society.

In 1980 Denis completed the Met Police’s Annual Barking to Southend racewalk (32+ miles) in just over 6 hours. He is also a member of the Met’s Sailing Club and is RYA qualified to Yachtmaster (Coastal Skipper) standard in both theory and practical terms. He has enjoyed sailing in the English Channel, the North Sea, the Baltic, the Mediteranean and in New Zealand, although due to his many other commitments he hasn’t been active in sailing for a couple of years now. 

Denis lives in Coney Hall, within walking distance of the clubhouse, and is married to Hazel (also a Club member) with a son (Neil) who lives in Wandsworth and a daughter (Gayle) who lives in New Zealand.

When he was asked by Richard Coe to be his successor he readily admits he ‘hesitated as I am very much aware that it is a very big commitment. However, this club has formed a major part of my life for many years now and I have a tremendous amount of affection for all that it represents. I have derived enormous pleasure and satisfaction from being a member of this club and I now look forward to giving some more back to it. I look forward to a year in which the club goes on to achieve even greater heights in athletics and where we, who are charged with forming its legacy, do all we can to improve the facilities here’. As my ‘theme’ for the year I want to promote more unity in the club so that we try to give extra support to all sections. I want to encourage the cross-country athletes to go along and support the track and field athletes; and vice versa. The veteran athletes to go along and support the young athletes; and vice versa. The tri-athlete section to go along and support the road running athletes; and vice versa. I know we all live busy lives these days but, if you have a couple of hours free at the weekend, have a look at the club fixture list to see what events are taking place and then see if you can pop along to support our athletes’.


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