Written by David Barrington
LEN HATTON 1928 – 2016
Kingston AC & Polytechnic Harriers are extremely sad to have to report the death,at the age of 87 in Monte Carlo on 20th July,of our long-standing Patron,and Past-President,Len Hatton. Len,not to be confused with our current Chairman,Les,has been a more-than-substantial benefactor of both Polytechnic Harriers,since his first association with our predecessor club shortly after WW2,as well as the present Kingston AC & Polytechnic Harriers from the merger in 1985.
Len’s business interests included the establishment of Shaw & Hatton,Quantity Surveyors,who were highly and successfully involved in the Construction Industry, and with the Shipping Industry including Cunard and the QE2,as well as the initial impetus of North Sea Energy Exploration projects. He had always been of a considerable sporting nature,and he was one of the early members and most generous supporters of the Sports Aid Foundation(now SportsAid),joining in 1982,becoming an Executive Committee member in 1996 and then Chairman from 1997 to 2012. He was awarded the OBE for Services to Sport in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2013.
Personally,he was an extremely generous,friendly and kind man,and there are many well-known names across the world of Athletics in the UK, and in other Sports,who owe Len an enormous debt of gratitude for showing them that he cleary and honestly believed in them and in their ambitions,and was enthusiastic to be part of their plans and projects.
A tribute to Len and his work with the Sports Aid Foundation,latterly known as SportsAid after Government Funding via the Nat ional Lottery was introduced,can be accessed,together with a photoshoot of Len and his wife Carol alongside Roger Black and his lady, via this link – www.sportsaid.org.uk/news-main/news/leonard-hatton-sportsaid-president-1928-2016/
There is also a Tribute on the Poly Water Polo Club website – http://www.polywaterpolo.com/news
Len joined the Poly a few years after the Second World War and became an integral member of the Harriers,whose welfare and progress formed part and parcel of his life thereafter,even when he divided his time between Monte Carlo and Sunningdale. He was an active middle distance runner in his early days,and later regular official and supporter in many ways,so much so that he was elected a Vice-President in 1969,and subsequently accepted the post of President in 1980,following track internationals Doug Wilson and Charlie Leslie into that role. He was also involved with major Track & Field Meetings at White City and usually had a ringside seat as Wind Gauge Operator.
When it came to pass that a merger was the best option forward for The Poly,as we were known in athletics circles,Len was just as keen to support the new club as it ventured from the world of just a male club,as still were several of the major clubs in London and elsewhere at that time, into the fully-integrated organisation which it now is.
For the first 3 years of the merged club,Len shared the Presidency with Sue Shilling. He had always been prepared to put his hand in his pocket if he felt the cause was worthy,and he continued to donate generously throughout the rest of his life. In 1988,there was a change in the Presidency,with David Dyer taking Office but the Club Committee unanimously asked Len if he would be our first Patron,and he gladly accepted.
Len was also a supporter of other Regent Street Polytechnic Sports Clubs,not least with funding which enabled the Poly Water Polo Club to become National Club Champions and to compete on the Continent. As you can read via the above link to the SportsAid website,he was also Chair of the Committee that successfully bid for the 2005 IAAF World Athletics Championships and a Patron of the Lords Taverners,and of the European PGA. He was also a former Director of Newcastle United FC.,with Sir John Hall and Kevin Keegan amongst his close acquaintances from the world of football.
Back with K&P,Len,amongst many other things,spent considerable funds on a legal action to wrest the ownership of the iconic Polytechnic Marathon’s equally iconic Sporting Life Trophy back into K&P hands,but,sadly,to no avail. This magnificent trophy had sadly languished in a North London cellar for a while,but Len ensured it was refurbished to its original splendour and it is now usually on display at London Marathon’s HQ each April,in conjunction with that Annual Race.
Throughout the 1990s through to his recent passing,Len also placed funds with K&P to help ensure that the ‘Poly name’ lived on,not least with support for the Mens British League Team,and particularly when a marathon trip to Glasgow in 2012 tested the Hon Secretary’s and Hon Treasurer’s,not to mention the Team Manager’s,financial resolve .One of a number of 4-figure donations saved the day again,not to mention the TM’s ‘bacon’!
Our thoughts are with his wife,Carol,daughter Nicole and son Michael.
A Memorial Service will be held in London on Wednesday 28th September at St George's Church, Hanover Square at 11 am.
With kind acknowledgments to Stan Farrow,Bob Frith,Graham Ward,and,especially,Andy Ronay for their recollections of Len and his life.
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