“Jimmy” as we all knew him at Leith

A Tribute from the Leith Harrier & Athletic Club, Dunedin

We offer our condolences, comfort and love to his family

Jimmy who passed away on Sunday 7 April 2024 at the age of 93, was a former president of the Leith Harrier & Athletic Club. He served in this capacity between 1965 and 1966. He was honoured as a Life Member in 1974 after nearly 30 years of service to the club.

It was soon after World War 2 around 1949 that Jimmy joined Leith at the age of 17 or 18 as a junior runner where he excelled. He was later linked to Arthur Lydiard as one of those athletes who was distanced-coached by Lydiard who lived in Auckland.

Member of the Leith Team – Winners of the Otago Cross Country Championships 1956

Back Row:  J Sprague, C Donaldson, K Williams, F Perry 
In Front: S Walkinshaw, A Richardson

One of his great achievements was to win the Otago Marathon Championship three times – in 1955, 1956 and 1959 (do we have his times?). He did better over the longer distances, but still excelled on the track as a competent steeplechaser. In the 50s and 60s he was prominent in many of the Leith relay teams and team podiums in cross country and road running

He was a member of the six-person Leith team that won the 1956 Otago Cross Country Championships. He was also in the memorable Leith team that won the 1957 Lovelock Relays for the first time. The team almost broke the record at that time. In 1957 he won the Otago 10 Mile in a record time. From the 1970s he excelled in the Masters Grades. He then focussed his energies on coaching becoming known for his motivating influence on his athletes. This was a momentous time in the Leith Club as women were allowed to join the club and compete in Leith colours for the first time in its history.. Jimmy had the privilege of coaching many Leith women club members during the late 70s, 80s and 90s.

In the latter part of his club involvement, he often helped out at the club races and was part of Leith’s large vibrant walking section. He retired from the club soon after the club’s 75th Year Jubilee Celebrations held in 2000. Apart from his running talents he was also a long standing member of the Dunedin City Choir.

He is remembered as a true gentleman who was always genuinely interested in the aspirations of his fellow runners. He was knowledgeable about all things running and more showing a true love for the sport. His contribution to Leith and Otago athletics was immense as an athlete, coach, mentor and friend. His was a life well lived.