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A tribute to Dave Holman – The lost speech

This is what I would have said if I had been asked to speak at Dave Holman’s funeral, reports Alan Chidley.

You have to imagine I have just walked up to the front of the chapel.

Good afternoon everyone…….I have just been handed a note which says “Don’t mention The Haystack”…so I won’t.

Dave joined our club in 1977 and on the night his membership form came up at Committee I was covering the Membership Secretary who could not attend the meeting.

So I read out new member Henry Holman, which meant that for the first few weeks I always refered to him as Henry. Of course I soon changed to calling him Dave, the name we all new him by.

Dave was a great help to our club, especialy looking after new young members, who soon became known as Dave’s Ducklings. He worked tirelesly with these young athletes guiding them through the early stages of athletics and many of them went on to acheive high standards as they went into the older age groups.

I am sure there are many here today who have come to say thank you and good bye.

He also helped in other ways, as part of working parties at the Clubhouse, marking cross country courses and, in conjunction with Harry Wild, building a shed which is still very much in use today.

He became, as far as I know only the 4th person to have part of our course named after him when Dave’s Hill was named.

He also held Committee posts such as Team Manager for the young age groups and in 1988 became President of our club.

I well remember when he was made a Vice President and was told he was now on the shortlist for President, to which he replied “I’ve always been on the shortlist”.

At the Club Dinner of 1988 I had the privilege of introducing him and I remembef saying “Dave is a man who you can believe every word he says, as he would be incapable of telling a tall story”

However, this was sometimes thrown into doubt with the stories he would tell such as:

  • Playing football against Stanley Matthews
  • Being Eddie Calvert’s bodyguard
  • Riding a Penny Farthing bike which he found in Ruislip High Street to Brighton
  • Running the London to Brighton
  • Regular claims to have been a Finchley Harrier, of which there is no record
  • Harry Secombe and Nat Gonella performing at his first wedding
  • Claims to have coached Lynford Christie and Seb Coe

A couple of anecdotes from members:

James Shipley remembers when he was doing some road hill work with Dave’s group and some local youths had been causing problems nearby. The residents had reported this and the police arrived just as the group set off on an uphill stride.. Believing them to be the troublemarkers the police gave chase only to be amazed as having reached the top of the hill they all turned round and started jogging back towards them.

Martin Searle recalls that many years ago his father mentioned that the seat of his childreens swing had become decayed and then Dave presenting him with a new handmade seat, asking nothing more than a thank you.

Stefan Dokic asked if the recent Junior win in the Southern Road Relays could be dedicated to Dave as he was always great supported of our younger teams.

So we have lost one of the great characters of our club, but I am sure he will never be forgotten.