Saturday 19 December 2020

Letter of thanks from George Patterson

 On behalf of Hudson Stoker’s immediate family, Sheila, and Jeff Lee, (Sister and Brother-in-Law), and his two nephew’s, Great Nieces and Great Nephew, and myself, I would personally wish to thank our many friends at Morpeth Harriers & AC, North East Counties AA, and Northern Athletics, and friends, for the many cards and kind wishes expressed at the time of our very sad loss.

We were all very much overwhelmed by the number of people wo showed their very kind concerns at a time when we very much needed you.

Hudson was, and still is a most wonderful friend, whom I will never be able to forget, and I will continue to treasure the memory of his wonderful friendship for the rest of my days.

I was very lucky in life to have met and known him, and our 52 years that we spent as friends, and close companion, will always be held most dearly to my heart.

He was very much a gentle, gentleman, something unique, who is thankfully now out of the pain that he very much bravely bore, without a grumble, and with the determined grace and dignity that was very much true to his character.

Neatness, and the need for everything in its place was very much Hudson’s forte, lessons I learnt from him throughout our lovely life together.

He will always be very sadly missed, God Bless.

Kind Regards

George Patterson

Tuesday 1 December 2020

John Keefe & Hudson Stoker

 THE North East athletics family has been hit a double whammy with the news that long-serving officials John Keefe and Hudson Stoker passed away last weekend.

It’s a huge blow to everyone who knew the two superb servants who graced the field of athletics in a special style by going about their business in a quiet but exceptional way and with their passing the sport will be a lonely place without them.

The Harrier League in particular is hugely grateful and appreciative for the tireless work the pair put in over many years which, in a sense, helped make the NEHL the envy of other cross-country leagues throughout the country.

John Keefe

John started life as an athlete with his home-town club Jarrow Cycling and Athletics Club having notable successes giving the club a strong standing in the region. A move into the admin side with the likes of Tommy Power, Jimmy Hedley, Bob Charlton and Eric Huskisson after a name change to Jarrow and Hebburn Athletics Club, saw the South Tyneside outfit prosper even further especially when they had athletes of the calibre of Steve Cram and the largely unheralded David Sharpe, proud athletes who competed on the World stage in the famous gold with blue sash vest.

If his work at the club wasn’t enough – he filled all the major positions at one time or another – John took on the role as Harrier League secretary at a time when the organisation was struggling for funds. But he had the answer. He asked for volunteers on race days to go round with a bucket persuading competitors and their supporters to dig deep for the cause and it worked a treat so much so the league is now in a much healthier state now as the collecting bucket is no longer and in the archives of history!

Jonathan Gilroy presenting John Keefe with the Jarvis Award at Jarrow & Hebburn's 80th Anniversary

After passing over the league secretary position John continued to be a regular at Jarrow & Hebburn and local fixtures despite some atrocious weather working as an official at the finish line, a role he also enjoyed in warmer climes at track meetings throughout the region.

Hudson Stoker

Hudson, meanwhile, was, in comparison to John, a relatively late starter to the local athletics scene after linking up with the Northumbrians in 1986. However, he quickly made his mark after working alongside great friend George Patterson as members of Morpeth Harriers.

George & Hudson at the 2019 Northern's XC Champs

A gentle gentleman, Hudson proved an asset to the Northumberland outfit where he took on many tasks without question, a fact quickly recognised by the hierarchy which resulted in him being installed as a life-member.

Away from his club duties Hudson found a new niche when he took up announcing duties like a duck to water. While local events were the bread and butter, especially with the mic in one hand and his beloved camera around his neck ready for action before proclaiming in that immaculate voice of his: ‘Slow pack you have five minutes to the start’ at a HL fixture. His calm delivery quickly got him recognised where he was installed at Northern Athletics’ events as well as English Road Relay Championships.

RIP John and Hudson, our thoughts and prayers are with all your family and friends at this sad time.

*For further tributes to John and Hudson check the relative club websites

By Bill McGuirk