Thursday, July 25, 2024

Ken Batty: One of founding members of Thurrock Harriers passes away.

ONE of the founder members of Thurrock Harriers, Ken Batty, died on Sunday aged 84.

Back in 1949 Clement Attlee was Prime Minister and the National Health Service was just 1 year old and Ken Batty had just finished his National Service. Like many of his generation National Service had interested him in many new activities amongst them running.

In one race during his National Service he came against an athlete with a very ungainly style who ran as if he was in agony. He was the great Emil Zatopek!!

When he returned to Grays he was invited to join Grays Athletic and Social Club who trained on a 220 yard track at Grays Recreation Ground. But he and other runners who were finishing their National Service were looking for better facilities and in a meeting held above Baird’s restaurant in the High Street this group decided to set up a separate athletics club which was to be called Thurrock Harriers.

That decision was because most of the new members were interested in cross country running. Their first headquarters was at Palmers Girls’ School.

Competition came in the form of inter-club cross country races and the in the summer local factories such as Batas, Thames Board Mills and Shell held sports days where often good prizes were on offer. Although the Club thrived at first numbers began to drop away and by the middle 50s, 3 founder members who formed the Committee at that time, Ken, Fred Seal and Geoff Edwards, looked out from a Committee Meeting and saw only 2 athletes training.

Those 2 athletes were Ken’s Brother Melvyn and Jim Catto. They were running so brilliantly for their age that they decided to carry on the work with the Club just for the sake of them.

Ken remained as Secretary of the Club until the late 60s. Ken and his fellow Committee Members worked hard to build up the Club and the turning point came when the new track was built at its new location at Blackshots. This was a major moment in the Club’s history and Ken was one of its driving forces behind it.

In the late 60s Ken resigned from his job at Thames Board Mills and moved to Trowbridge where he ran a Post Office/Village Store.

A Club spokesman said “The Club had produced four Olympic athletes and 12 other internationals and any success it has had owes much to the dedicated work of Ken and his fellow founder members”.

Ken is survived by his wife Jean and 2 children, David and Sarah.

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