Written by DB
Graham Stanley Ward 9.6.1929 – 4.2.2018
The Club has learnt very sadly of the passing of one of our former Polytechnic Harriers, Graham Ward, in Peterborough on February 4th at the age of 88.
Graham was educated at Chiswick County School for Boys, which was adjacent to the Poly Stadium, and he joined the Club in August 1946. He started work in the West End with Pearl Assurance in September 1947, and his workplace was around the corner from 309 Regent Street, which was the HQ of the Harriers in Town. It was from there that many of the distance runners in the Club trained of an evening, using the very handy Outer Circle of Regents Park, then a hotbed and vibrant venue for many middle distance runners, who worked in Central London from numerous clubs, not only Poly members. At that time, the Poly, as the club was known in athletics circles, were one of the leading clubs in London, and their recruitment activities brought numerous overseas athletes into their ranks, many of whom were in the Forces in WW2. The standard was very high, including names of the calibre of track greats, McDonald Bailey and Arthur Wint, and Graham soon caught the serious training bug and, though short of full international selection for GB himself, he rubbed shoulders with many and, along with many locals, became a fervent and committed national-standard performer.
The Poly took teams abroad frequently post-War, and Graham was honoured to be amongst those selected, where he was able hone his ability, resulting in personal best 2 and 3 miles marks of the metric equivalent of 8.26.2 at 3000 (at Motspur Park) and 14.36.4 over 5000 at Chiswick. Both these marks were achieved in 1958, his most formidable and productive year on the track. He was a regular on the roads and country, including the formidable multi-stage News of the World-sponsored London to Brighton Road Relay.
GB international, Doug Wilson, and inveterate Polyphile, Jimmy Wood, were contemporaries of Graham’s, and their extraordinary commitment to the club rubbed off on Graham as well, and although his active running career ended in 1960 and the Pearl Assurance moved him and their HQ to Peterborough in 1974, he retained his support and interest in the Club throughout his life, even through the merger with RBKAC in 1985; up until his death, he was in regular contact with this writer. In the 1970s, Graham funded the purchase of 3 Trophies for our Young Athletes Cross Country Club Championships, all 3 of which were named for his great friend, Jimmy Wood, and remain contested to this day. Subsequently, when KACPH inaugurated an annual trophy for the best performance by a Veteran/Masters member, the award was named ‘The Graham Ward Award’, and there are now two such awards for Men and for Women.
When his family moved to Peterborough, he became involved with Peterborough AC, and he took to coaching, becoming a qualified Middle Distance Senior Coach, as they were known then (present Level 4), and achieved real success for his adopted club, including his Junior (U20 now) squad winning a National Cross Country title at Nottingham. His one great regret was that not one of his team really pursued a senior career in the sport.
Graham was elected a Vice-President of Poly Harriers in 1964, and doubled that by being elected to the same post for services to Peterborough AC in later years.
On the coaching front, his 2 daughters took to swimming competitively, rather than athletics, but he applied himself to coaching them in that sport, too.
Our thoughts are with his wife, Sheila, his daughters, Karen & Gillian and the Family at this sad time.
The funeral is at St Botolph’s Church, Longthorpe, Peterborough on February 23rd.
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