John Lofts President of AFD passed away on the 21st November 2014. Highlights of his long career in athletics are given below
John born in 1940 in Hoddesdon, which is just outside London on the Cambridge road
From Hoddesdon John's family moved to Paisley before coming to Farnborough in 1954, where John attended Farnborough Grammar School. John remained in this area for the rest of his life.
John's father was a keen footballer and Cricketer and would take John to matches. John was not content to watch and and at about the age of 10 possed with his dad's cricket team as the scorer. John interest in criket stayed with him till the end, he was a paid up member of Surrey CC and used to keep a score card for every game he watched.
John became involved in athletics like so many through his family, in this case Sheena, his sister who he watched while she competed for Aldershot Athletics Club. It was Jim Horesborough who nudged John on the first steps of officiating by getting him to rake the pit in 1957.
In 1959 John Qualified as an official and there started an illustrious career as a Track Judge, becoming a Referee in 75. John regularly officiated at National Championships and Internationals during the 70, 80 and 90. Indeed I remember watching international meetings on the TV while always pleased to see AFD runners, I always felt proud to spot the AFD official. John track judging highlight was officiating in 1978 at the Edmonton Commonwealth Games and then going on to be Chief Judge at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane. In John's memorbelia is a post card from Brisbane, which shows Olly Flynn winning gold at the Edmonton Games, with all due respect to Olly the real star on the post card is the Track Judge - John.
John was always keen to pass on his knowledge, and regularly ran officiating courses . Indeed you only had to show half an interest and you were on a course.
John was AFD official sec – not sure we ever gave him the title he just did it, He was a member of the Hampshire and Southern Counties and served on the AAA General Committee and Chairman of Rushmoor Sports Council.
While John achieved great honour, I will pick out 3 that gave John the most pleaseure were:
England Athletics Sevices to Officiating 2009 – The bottle of Champagne that went with might be the reason for the big grin on John's face.
Secondly to be president of the South of the Cross Country Association.
Last but not least. President of AFD 3 times a post he still held at his death
What defines John is the work behind the scienes:
Making sure the young lads of the Aldershot team, had transport and matches in an era before leagues when you had to get invites to matches.
The work John did leading up to the amalgamation of Aldershot and Farnham athletics clubs – resulting in AFD.
The setting up of the league structure both Young Athletes and Seniors.
The setting up of local leagues.
John took on work willingly. One incidence of this was when AFD staged the Southern Road Relays I am not sure John was asked, he just got on with co-ordinated the officials
How can you sum up John huge contribution to Athletics, I will leave you with this thought.
If John officiated 30 times a year, a very conservative estimate over 50 years he would have been on the judges stand 1,500 times for say 30 events in a meeting giving 45,000 events. Meaning about 450,000 athletes.