Life member of the club, Ann Lewis sadly passed away on Sunday 18th June at Frimley Park Hospital comforted by Lew, her husband, Jennie her daughter and son, Roger. Ann joined AFD in 1987 as a swimmer who wanted to compete in biathlon competitions. Although she competed regularly as a runner, her career was fairly unremarkable, showing no signs of the successes which were about to follow.
It was in 1991 that the AFD Ladies section entered a team to compete in the newly-formed Hampshire Veterans League.
One of the events in that league is the 2000 metre walk. She had four sessions with John Delaine, our race walking coach before her first race. So, on 29th April 1991, a remarkable career began starting with a victory in her first race. 1994 saw Ann consolidate her position as Britain’s leading lady veteran walker, winning W45 National Championships at 3000 metres, 5000 metres (beating her own Championships Best Performance) and 10,000 metres on the track as well as the 10K and 20K titles on the road, breaking the British age-group record at 5000 metres. She also represented Hampshire as a senior in the Southern Inter-Counties taking first place despite being a veteran of over 45 years. She held on to all five titles the following year, this time breaking the British record in the 3000 metres indoor competition whilst in training for the London Marathon in 1995 and race walked all the way in a time of just under 5 hours.
Since 1998, after turning the magical age of 50 (I know we shouldn’t discuss a lady’s age but when you compete in Veterans athletics, it’s difficult to hide it!). She won Gold in the World Veterans Non-Stadia Championships (10K Road in 1999 and 20K Road in 2000), Gold in the Europeans (5000 metres and 10K road in 1998, 20K walk in 1999 and 2001). She has represented Great Britain Veterans in the 3000 metre walk in 1998 and 1999, taking bronze on both occasions. She has also represented Hampshire at senior level competing against mere youngsters and won on both occasions (in 1998 and 2000). She has also been National Champion at all six walking events (3000 metre indoor & outdoor, 5000 & 10,000 metre track, 10K and 20K road) breaking the British record in each discipline. Ann was a remarkable and formidable athlete who at National level has never been beaten in her age group since she started race walking in 1991.
Unfortunately, in the early 2000s, Ann was diagnosed with breast cancer which meant she was not able to compete. In 2004, she was determined to train and race. Feeling better in 2005, she completed 20 races only to be further diagnosed in 2006 with ovarian cancer. Once again, she refused to give in, and by 2010 was back up to 10 races including the National Championships. In spite of the layoffs, her times were improving all the time. It became the norm to see Ann training at the track with no hair, all the while undergoing chemotherapy. She was determined to keep fit, always negotiating with Verity the coach to do more. Ann played a huge part in our Race Walking Squad – she was the junior athlete’s ‘grandmother’, she listened to their stories and eased their stresses. Ann will be missed by her very best of friends Sue, Verity and John, our Race Walking coaches. Our condolences go to Ann’s family and friends at this very sad time.
Ann’s funeral will take place on Friday 14th July, 10.30am.
Easthampstead Park Cemetery & Crematorium, South Road, Nine Mile Ride, Wokingham, RG40 3DW.
Ann wishes that everyone wears bright colours to celebrate her life. She liked the idea of AFD members to wear their club colours.