Dick Griffin

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Last updated 23 March 2012

Richard Griffin, LVO, BA, President for 2014/15

Dick was born on 10 April 1951 in Newport, Gwent, where he grew up with his younger sister Judith, his mother died when he was only 5 and unfortunately his father, a serving police officer, was killed on duty three years later.

He was educated at Larkfield Grammar School where his main interest, as with all true Welshmen, was in rugby. He participated in cross country and athletics whilst at school and represented both his town and county in the 800m at athletic meetings in Wales.

On reaching the age of 16 he started work as a Police Cadet with Gwent Constabulary where he worked until he reached the age of 19. Whilst working here he was always active in soccer, rugby, cricket and bowls! It was during this period that he undertook the challenge of The Duke of Edinburgh Award and successfully reached the gold standard. One of the challenges set for him was to qualify as a football referee and to referee for a season in a local league.

At 19 he decided that life in Wales was too quiet and moved to London where he joined the Metropolitan Police in 1970. He won Sheila in a raffle at a Policemans Ball shortly after (he had to meet her for lunch to collect his prize) and they married in 1972 and have two children Holly and Gareth and three wonderful grandchildren in Joshua, Isla and Heath. The future is looking good as both Isla and Heath attend The Bees Academy on Saturday mornings!

He served as a constable and sergeant in Central London before a tour of duty with the Obscene Publications Branch at New Scotland Yard. It was during this tour of duty with “The Dirty Books Squad” that he met Denis Lawrie and their friendship has flourished. Promoted to Inspector in 1981 when events elsewhere changed his life overnight. Michael Fagan had broken into The Queen’s bedroom at Buckingham Palace and Dick was part of a team of 6 police officers sent in to sort out the reorganisation of security procedures.

On completion of this task he was selected to be a Personal Protection Officer and was sent to Cambridge University to protect HRH The Prince Edward. He made the most of this and gained a Bachelor of Arts Degree from The Open University.

In 1986 he was promoted to Chief Inspector and moved to the Household of The Duke of Edinburgh for whom he worked for 13 very enjoyable years, the highlight of which was being attacked by a giant panda whilst on a visit to China. In 1999 he became a Personal Protection Officer to Her Majesty The Queen for whom he worked for 14 years. This period was the pinnacle of his career as he travelled throughout the world with Her Majesty. In 2010 he was promoted to Superintendent and held the position known as “The Queen’s Police Officer “until he retired in April 2013 when he was honoured by being made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order, a personal decoration from Her Majesty. During his career as a Royalty Protection Officer he visited over 150 different countries.

In 1981 his daughter had persuaded him to take her to watch the first London Marathon which gave him the incentive to start distance running. A friend of Dick and Denis had told them the dreadful news that his son had developed Muscular Dystrophy and they both resolved to run the 1982 London Marathon and raise funds for this charity. This was something of a challenge as neither of them were distance runners and both were a great deal overweight but the race was completed in 3.57 and since then he has completed all London Marathons except 1985 when he broke his leg a few weeks before the race! He has currently run over 230 marathons all over the world including New York, Boston, Paris, Berlin and Orpington! In 2012 he completed the Comrades Marathon (55 miles) in South Africa in a time of 10 hrs 30 mins. He also completed the famous London to Brighton Road Race 3 times and competed in two 24 hours races with a best distance of 102 miles. In the Doncaster 24 hour race he raised a sum of over £12,000 for charity. He is still actively involved in distance running and is enjoying success in the over 60 age group and recently won the gold medal in the Southern Counties Veterans Marathon Championships.

Whilst training with Denis Lawrie for the 1987 London Marathon he was running through the snow towards Badgers Mount when Mike Gasson came alongside them and began to chat. As a consequence they came down to BH within the next couple of weeks and that was the start of his membership.

He has been actively involved in many aspects of the club including the organisation of the Wednesday Nighters’ Christmas Dinner. From April this year Sheila and Dick will be organising the Parris Handicap and they have also recently taken over the formidable task of handing all the club kit. Their son Gareth is also an active member competing regularly in marathons and Ironman events.

In 2005 Dick was made a VP by Past President Margaret Baldwin.

When asked by Bob Cliff to become President Dick asked for 24 hours to consider it so he could talk it over at home, but Sheila knew only too well he would take the challenge on as Blackheath and Bromley Harriers means so much to him and is a very important part of his life. He is already planning at St. Davids Day meal of leek soup and Welsh Rarebit!

What are his visions for his presidency year?

To actively encourage more runners to support Wednesday nights. Every Saturday over 400 hundred runners take part in Bromley Park Run and many of them are unattached runners who live in this area. He intends to take an active part in encouraging these runners to come along and see what we have to offer by handing out flyers at the race and setting up a stand at the finish to answer questions and encourage runners to visit us. He would also like to see more ladies visit the bar on a Wednesday night as there seems to be a great reluctance to come upstairs and we must actively encourage this group of athletes to come and see what hospitality we have to offer. He will also be going to spectate at many of the track events involving our athletes and to hopefully encourage more Wednesday Nighters to actively go and support what is an amazing success story of our club.

Bob Cliff

 


Wilf Orton interviews the President, Summer 2014

“THIS YEAR’S PRESIDENT”….DICK GRIFFIN LVO

This year the club has another retired policeman as president, whose own career has been wholly unique. He has been a club member for nearly 30 years long enough to be join the club ‘hall of fame’, and has for some years been the man that many people hoped would be president one day. Now his time has come and no more popular choice for a president could have been made. I caught up with him in Upper Norwood in May and this is what this year’s president Dick Griffin had to say about himself.

 

First off I want to find out what was your previous connection with your predecessor Bob Cliff and how that led to your being asked to take on the Presidency?

I didn’t really know Bob that well but he started by asking  around previous presidents to get their advice and after drawing up a short list of suitable  candidates he asked me if I would like to be president and I accepted and ‘Bob’s your uncle”. Actually his timing was quite funny because two weeks previously my son Gareth volunteered Sheila and I to take over the organization of the club kit from the Baldwins, and then Rob Brown wanted someone to take over the Parris Handicap so I thought ‘well that’s only once a month’. Then five days after I agreed to take this on too, Bob Cliff asked me if I’d like to be President. So I replied “shouldn’t you have done this the other way around so I could turn the other two down”!
If you’re ever given the honour it’s a 5/6 days a week job, I’ve been amazed.

The club used to have sections for other sports groups. Do you wish that these sections could be revived or is that no longer practical?

I think that the club has moved on. We are purely an athletics and triathlon club now. We used to have sub-groups such as cricket, rugby and rowing clubs but sadly these cannot be revived…...there are more than enough local cricket, bowls and rugby clubs around to join for us not to worry about keeping those old groups going. We used to have rowing activities when I first joined and we still have the annual Maryon Wilson swimming race, that’s a one off event, which in fact I have swum in myself, very badly.
Whilst such an idea of taking on different sports sounds interesting, a lot of club members don’t realise how many volunteers are needed to keep this club going…so many volunteers are needed for this and few people actually do get involved. A few people do a lot so we don’t need to take any more on in those circumstances.

In your late teens you undertook the challenge of The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and successfully reached the Gold Standard. What was the scope and range of activities in which you participated?

The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme is aimed essentially at young persons in the 14-24 age group. There are bronze and silver awards in which 4 activities are required to be completed and a gold award for which 5 activities are required. These activities include volunteering, physical, skills and an expedition.
To complete the gold award you also go on a residential course….bearing in mind that it took me three years to do all of this. I volunteered to help in a local hospital for 3-4 hours a week for 18 months and I worked in Newport Council horticultural department. For skills I qualified as a football referee in local leagues for 2 years and to attain the physical standard I did running, fitness training and went on 4 expeditions, including the Brecon Beacons, Dartmoor and an outward bound course in Devon. The best part of it was coming to London to get my gold award from the Duke of Edinburgh personally.
The scheme is open to anyone….no one should be excluded because of lack of funds….. charities and foundations are able to help so there should be no costs incurred by the young people themselves.
The award scheme is what Prince Philip says it is. It’s what a lot of young people do in their everyday life…play sport, volunteer and develop life skills. It develops team building and encourages people to rely on each other… as well as building up physical fitness which is something we take for granted but at 17-18 you’re not going to be taught that at school.

When at 19 you decided that life in Wales was too quiet and moved to London and the Metropolitan Police. How did your life change?

You have to appreciate that I was the boy from a small village in Wales, called Llanwern (population 200) going to London for the first time.
London life for someone like that was a real eye-opener. It was the first time I’d seen such things as a Chinese restaurant. At 19 from living at home I found myself in single men’s accommodation…I was free! Unlike Denis Lawrie who was a PC in Fife and already married with skills to bring with him, I was only a police cadet and came up on my own …not yet a fully fledged policeman.

Later you had a tour of duty with the Obscene Publications Branch at New Scotland Yard.  “The Dirty Books Squad. This form of crime seems to have been more prominent in policing in the 1970s. Has it become less so?

When I served on the squad we were dealing with the same problems as police are dealing with now…paedophiles were being investigated and increasingly caught out.
All obscene publications are still covered by the same act. In those days it was mainly printed material whereas now it’s readily available on the internet…and the police have different squads to deal with that, but the biggest problem was paedophiles…the internet offers easier access to obscenity now.
So far as dirty books were concerned I won’t try to describe what we had to deal with. It was so vile that officers were only allowed to serve for a maximum of 2 years. I was fortunate because when it came to the end of my time there I got promoted to Inspector and transferred to Tower Bridge Police Station.

 How much were you associated with Denis whilst on duty?

It was through the branch that I first met Denis Lawrie. There were 10 officers on the squad together with an inspector who in the last 6 months of my time there was Denis. I found out that he lived close to me so I invited him for dinner and the rest is history. We’ve been mates for 35 years, our kids have grown up together and the two families have been almost one big happy one.

The Michael Fagan intrusion was a change of direction in your career. Was it purely coincidental that your career changed course or did you think that you were moving in that direction anyway? 

It’s a matter of public record…the alarms didn’t work properly…not enough money was spent by the relevant government department (the Home Office) on updating systems so security in Buckingham Palace was a disaster waiting to happen. No-one expects that someone in going to break in and find their way into the Queen’s bedroom but like most things in life the thing which you didn’t expect will happen does happen. I had recently been promoted to Inspector and was settling down to a career in mainstream policing, when out of the blue the Metropolitan Police Commissioner selected 6 inspectors to shake the Palace up following the Michael Fagan intrusion.

What was the result of this re-organisation?

We changed the shift pattern, brought in more officers, better training, spent a fortune on alarms…it was quite a wake up call…we helped Lord Bridges in preparing a report to Parliament and his recommendations were contained in a lengthy report which the government acted upon. There is too much to mention here and some of it is still considered confidential enough to prevent me saying anything more detailed about it.

In 1982 you were sent to Cambridge University to protect HRH The Prince Edward.  Was he a particular security risk being royal or could you be relatively low profile?

At that time he was  a low risk from terrorism…all royals are subject to contact with people with mental health problems, grudges, and of course novel for that time the threat of press intrusion. I was an Honorary Fellow at the College for 3 years whilst Edward did his degree. a I did my degree through the Open University to avoid any conflict of interest in what HRH was doing.

What did you read at the Open University?

I read Philosophy, music and art and completed a BA Degree in The Arts. I visited art galleries and wrote essays about such artists as Turner and Constable. In the Open University I’d be studying in my own time writing essays until 2 in the morning. These days the Open University isn’t cheap but at that time the Police paid some of my fees…I enjoyed it.

And were you able to take in and enjoy the university atmosphere? 

As for the university atmosphere, I had some of the happiest 3 years of my life…Edward played Rugby for his college whilst I was able to do my long distance running ..Edward would come along on his bike to give me drinks and look after me, so it was like role reversal. It was whilst at Cambridge I discovered my love of ultra running. Together with a tutor from Jesus College we accepted a challenge from Prince Edward to run from Buckingham Palace to Jesus College, Cambridge to raise funds for The Save the Children Fund. We started off from London at 6am and reached Cambridge, 60 miles later at 4pm in the afternoon.                                                                                                                             
As well as sport there was also acting. Edward produced plays at college and would always include a part for me. The first play I performed in was called “Glitterball prizes”  and I was given a part (albeit a lowly one) and was on stage for only about 5 minutes. I thought  it was going to be a student play but the Prince of Wales came to watch it  and it was such a success that my face was on every tabloid the next day. “Edward’s minder steals the show” was one of the headlines. In this play I performed in a sketch with another student…I was a bouncer. The result was that the next day an assistant commissioner called me afterwards, and told me “you’re meant to be keeping a low key profile at Cambridge…you’re the headline in every national tabloid paper…  I replied “well unfortunately it’s going to be on all week” so he said “well that’s the end of your acting career!”    
“Well sir”…I replied….”there’s a slight problem there…we’ve been invited to do the play at Windsor Castle in front of the Queen!
Actually I was set up for this play because every time we went to rehearsals, for one particular role, the student who had that part never turned up….and when we got to the final dress rehearsal I was told that that particular part “was written for you” . I’d been to so many rehearsals that I knew the part inside out so I had to do it. Anyway sometimes you’re thrown into these things…you’ve got to just go through with it….give everyone a laugh.

Did you find Cambridge to be an elitist institution or an open one?

Cambridge University is elitist academically yes – in that it selects the brightest students but socially no. There are a disproportionate number of privately schooled pupils for a large variety of reasons. Predominantly, that a much greater proportion of them apply compared to students from state schools. But there are very very few “Toffs”, most people are still quite normal and friendly regardless of where they went to school and as a policeman I was made more than welcome by everybody. All are united in one aim and that is to get a good degree. Oxbridge universities get the cleverest people in the land…there’s real brainpower there but let’s not apologise for those people getting a fantastic education.

In 1986 you  moved to the Household of The Duke of Edinburgh What is he like and does he really come across as being likeably outspoken?

Prince Philip…… I worked as his Protection Officer for 13 years, 1986 to 1999. He is the most amazing man, so much energy. It is a well reported fact that he does not suffer fools gladly but I found him the most wonderful person to work for. Naturally he will speak his mind so here are some of my favourite Prince Phillip Gaffs: To students in China in 1986, “If you stay here too long you will get slitty eyes. On meeting president of Nigeria who was dressed in National Costume in 2003, “You look like you are ready for bed”, and, best of all, to a Scottish Driving Instructor in 1995. “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test”

What on earth happened with the giant panda? 

In 1986 I went on a tour of China with Duke of Edinburgh and we visited a Giant Panda Research Station. The BBC were filming Prince Philip holding the latest baby panda born at the research station. The mother was in a cage nearby and was getting very agitated by all the people around her. Suddenly she lashed out with her paw catching me a glancing blow across the top of my leg which needed stitches. As the nearest hospital was several hours away the deep wound was sewn up by HRH’s valet! Thus according to The Daily Telegraph I became the first Metropolitan Police Officer in the 150 years history of the Police Force to be injured on duty by being savaged by a giant panda!

In 1999 you became The Queens Police Officer, what were your highlights?

After 13 wonderful years with HRH The Prince Philip I was transferred to The Household of Her Majesty the Queen. This was an amazing time in my life as I was fortunate to meet Nelson Mandela, The Pope, President Bush as well as sporting icons like Paula Radcliffe. Highlights of those years have been my involvement in the arrangements of both the Golden and Diamond Jubilee Celebrations as well as The London Olympics. I was sworn to secrecy about the James Bond clip for the Opening Ceremony, even Sheila did not know about it.
After 14 years with Her Majesty I reluctantly decided to retire in April 2013 and was fortunate that Her Majesty gave me a retirement party at Buckingham Palace to which 200 people were invited. I was honoured when not only she and Prince Philip attended but also The Earl of Wessex who telephoned me beforehand to ask if he could pop in!

Last year you were made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order. What is that awarded for?

The Royal Victorian Order was founded in 1896 by Queen Victoria as a way of rewarding distinguished personal service to her, on her own initiative rather than by ministerial recommendation. The Order was, and is, entirely within the Sovereigns gift and is given by Her Majesty to people who have served her or the monarchy in a personal way.  
I had previously been made a Member of The Royal Victorian Order (MVO) for services to Royalty Protection and in 2013 was made a Lieutenant of The Royal Victorian Order (LVO) for services to Her Majesty the Queen. Every 4 years the members of the RVO attend a service at St Georges Chapel, Windsor Castle. Many members of the Royal Family attend including Her Majesty. A reception is then held in the castle where everyone attends.

The Queen was the object of abuse from students at Stirling University in the early 1970s. Are security arrangements much stricter now as to make the royals unaccessible?

I’ve been with the Royal Family for 30 years and it is the policy of the royals, all of them, that ‘we will be accessible’…As police we’re not going to let security get in the way and become like security for the U.S President. Now I’m not saying that’s good or bad…they’ve got their way of doing it …we’ve got our way.
When we know what parameters to work under then we’ll avoid making that security palpably overt…you’ll see me and a few others being inconspicuous, but unlike the American security who make it very overt. Our royal family won’t allow that and it works very well.
Compared with some other monarch such as, say Queen Victoria, and there were 4 attempts on her life by assassins…the present Queen’s life is much safer…whether we’ve been lucky or security is better…and bearing mind we’ve had Malcolm Sargent in the Mall, Ian Ball who tried to kidnap Princess Anne, or Michael Fagan… we’ve improved immeasurably from Victorian times. We’ve got more police officers on the ground, they tend to identify problems before they happen…we search places, cars are not left unattended, officers have better training, superb manpower, first class police service!

 Regarding that incident at Stirling University, is there less anti-royal sentiment than there was in the 1970s?

Well the Queen’s 88 and she’s been on the throne for 62 years and has got so much respect, even amongst fervent anti-royalists. In 1988 when Australia had a referendum on the issue of whether to stay a monarchy (which was decided for by the narrowest of margins), even the most ardent republicans were complaining that they weren’t invited to events at which the Queen was present. They say “even if the Queen’s not our idea of a head of state, we still want to meet her”.
In Britain people constantly asked the question ‘if we get rid of the monarchy, what’s it going to be replaced by….an elected president voted in every four years?’
Personally I can’t think of anything better to replace it. Anyway even if the Queen’s 88 she’s in excellent health.  And should the Queen eventually abdicate? Personally I can’t think of any circumstance where the Queen might want to abdicate…I hope that she doesn’t.

 Is she likely to slow down?

According to the press she is, but last year (2013) she did 344 engagements in the UK alone, whilst the Prince of  Wales did 442, the Princess Royal completed 432 and everyone else did less engagements. That’s not what I would call slowing down. She’s certainly not travelling abroad so much and I know that it knocked me for 6 when I did it. The Duke’s 92 and he’s still working hard. 

 Will the monarchy be the same after this present Queen? Will Charles come to the throne and if so will he take the name Charles or perhaps some other name (such as George VII)?

Monarchs can choose their own regnal name,  it doesn’t have to be their own name. It has been reported that Prince Charles says he does not plan to be Charles III because the name has been unlucky for the previous King Charles. But this is all conjecture. Personally I think he’d make a superb king, he’s been waiting long enough to do it and he’s had masses of training….to pass him over in favour of Prince William would create some kind of precedent but one that should not happen. It’s his birthright, so why shouldn’t he be king?

He’s obviously not going to reign for very long but William and Katherine would be fantastic when their time comes, but if they did pass over Charles, his son would have the same problems as the Queen had….he’d become king at a young age so..let him have some life, there’s plenty of time to be head of state. Anyway the Queen’s going to live for another 20 years!

 Are William and Kate generating a new healthy image for the monarchy?

They already have. You can see that wherever they go in the world. With them in the wings after Charles, the monarchy is going to get stronger. Even though there’s been criticism of a well meaning monarchy  being screened by an overprotective court or royal household, in reality the Queen and other royals always travel to engagements with a very slim retinue consisting of a private secretary, ladies in waiting and an equerry…that’s not like it was in Tudor or Stuart times.. monarchy is approachable and economical. 

 In 1981 your modern running career began. What did it lead to?  

As a youth I was an 800 metre runner at town and county level. When I came to London I was a reasonable rugby footballer playing at centre and wing. But for a while I didn’t do much sport and needed to get fit. Then in the wake of the 1982 London Marathon Denis and I decided to have a crack at it to raise funds for muscular dystrophy…I finished this my first marathon in 3.57. For the next five years Denis and I ran London together vying for the honour of a personal best. Denis got his down to 3.16 and then I got a pb of 3.08 (clock time)….I just love running.     
Then one day whilst out running I met Mick Gasson… he invited me to come and join Blackheath Harriers but I said “ that’s an elite club”… “no it’s not” he replied and so I went along and was introduced to Mike Peel who made me most welcome.    
When I completed 40 marathons I met some guys from the ‘100 Marathon Club’ who invited me to come with them on their trips. I went from one marathon a year to 8 or 9, then 10 or 20 year and then I’d done 100….200  and now I’ve done 238 marathons. However I’m retiring on 262 (a variant of 26.2) so I have 24 to go, then I’ll quit!  In my marathon running career I’ve been to Berlin, Stockholm, Chicago, Rome, Paris, New York and other to numerous to mention.

What was your best marathon performance or favorite marathon for that matter?

My best London was 3.08 but of course there were no chips in those days so I had to accept the official time. I have managed to run the London Marathon 32 times and have already been accepted for the 2015 race.  My favourite marathon was the Medoc Marathon. Dave King, Peter Lovell, Denis Lawrie and I did it dressed as Hula Hula ladies in fancy dress. Every mile ran through a different chateau where we each had a glass of wine! 6 and ½ hours was the cut off so we took 6.15. You don’t want to rush something that good…that’s 6 and ½ hours of drunken running! I’d recommend that one to all your readers.

Is London so special a marathon or other marathons ignored?  

The London marathon gets much publicity but is too big. You end up running 27 miles according to your garmin, dodging people, but it is a great event. If you’re a runner you’ve got to run London if only once. However I did Hamburg a few weeks ago.. It was an ideal marathon…..there was room to move and it was flat.

And you’ve also attempted the ultra marathon.

That came about one time when Brian Todd mentioned to me that John Turner had an ambition to form a team of 4 runners to complete the London to Brighton Road Race. Starting off from Big Ben we would run to Brighton Pier, a distance of 55 miles. I managed to complete the race 3 times, twice beating the cut off time of 10 hours. I was never part of a Harriers team that managed to get a team home but in 1996 Gareth was part of the team, including John Turner and Brian Smith that not only completed the race but won silver medals in the AAA Athletics ultra distance championships. In 1998 Gareth and I decided to run the race and finish together. Unfortunately our plans didn’t quite work out and Gareth got to the finish area 1 hour before me but refused to cross the line until I arrived. He waited just short of the line for over an hour much to the consternation of the officials and we crossed the line together! Ultras are all about training, hour after hour of long slow training runs.  For the Comrades marathon, 55 miles from Durban to Petermaritzberg in South Africa I trained from 8am to 2pm with Dave King most Sundays. I have also completed two 24 hour track races, my best performance was when I covered 101 miles or something like 410 laps of a running track, madness!

Common question for all new presidents especially those joining before the early 90s. How has the club changed in the last 25 years or so? 

The most noticeable change since I joined is the lack of interest in Mob Matches.  When I joined the club you were expected to compete in all mob matches. I remember Mike Peel saying that you had to have ‘a sick note or a letter from your mum saying that you couldn’t attend. We used to be over 100 in our side. I remember Anne Celia taking over 70 runners to Orion.  But recently we took 25 runners to the last Orion away match.
Running these fixtures on Saturdays does not help as more people work that day now. I am trying to change our home matches to a Sunday morning. It’s pointless having mob matches with only 25 runners. We can’t carry on like this and unless we do something radical such as moving the fixture to Sundays we won’t have these matches in 10 years. If we match our 25 against the opposition’s 90 then we’ll know the result of the match before it starts. For this season only Orion and Ranelagh Harriers have agreed to come to our home matches on a Sunday morning. It will be interesting to see if there is any more support for these races.

The Wednesday Nighter’s Christmas Suppers a key fixture in the club’s social calendar seemed in danger of becoming a tame affair. Is it now making it’s way back as a popular event?   

Always a great night and most years this has been sold out several weeks before the event.  We had to make a few changes to the style and content particularly as this is now a mixed club. It does of course compete with other Christmas events which put demands of people’s money but so long as people want it we’ll continue to organize it.

Is there a danger that people find themselves volunteering for jobs out of a sense of duty or guilt?                                                                                                                                                          
All Clubs need volunteers to keep running and it amazes me how much is done by so few at Harriers. Wine Committee and House and Social, Coaches and Officials and other volunteers. We need more helpers especially younger ones. Great this year that Deniz Mehmet and Gareth Griffin have initiated barbeques every fourth Wednesday, and Tim Ayres does a fantastic job in coaching on Wed Nights.
 I appreciate that volunteering requires time and effort but if anyone wants to volunteer I don’t see why there shouldn’t be a place for them. We have a small core of volunteers all over 60 and many well into their 70s. It would be nice to welcome parents of juniors to get more involved and to help raise funds for their children’s athletics.

You’ve already given the club an idea of your visions for the coming year but do you wish to achieve athletic excellence without elitism?

Harriers are a great athletics club but we are a success because although we are a centre of Athletic Excellence we also encourage athletes of all abilities.  At our recent Marathon Supper our guests from Orpington Road Runners expressed their surprise in how inclusive we were. We’re not elitist and to illustrate this Dina Asher Smith recently gave a talk to a local prep school and was inspirational. Her main point was that even if you’re not a naturally gifted athlete the club can encourage you to improve and give more than your best.

 The family are healthily involved in the club. Does this promise many future generations of Griffin harriers?

The Future of the Griffins is bright, Gareth has run over 30 marathons, my daughter in law Chanese has run the Rome Marathon and granddaughters Isla, and Heath attend the Bees Academy. My eldest grandson, Joshua, regularly wins the sprint races at his school sports. My wife Sheila is in charge of all the club kit as well as assisting me with the organization of The Parris Handicap. She also supports the bar wholeheartedly (her words!).

Finally would you describe you mission as one of reconciliation?

People drop out of the club for various reasons, personal to themselves. Anyone who has left us in recent years has been visited by me and most have come back. Some left for lifestyle reasons but others such as Dave King and Mark Skelly have come back when their particular concerns were resolved. Also we are looking to interest complete outsiders into joining the club…that’s why I got you to produce the flyer. From this we are getting runners in the park runs interested in the club including a chap who has gone on to win the recent Ted Pepper race.

 

WO.  Dick, this has been a most interesting evening and thank you for sparing the time to take part in this interview.

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