We are extremely saddened to have to report the death, on Friday, 1st March, of Phil Sharkey, who managed our National Young Athletes team and was one of the founders of our "Wasps" section on Saturday mornings.
It was Phil and Steve Dunn's idea to add another training option for our Under 11s back in 1994-95. During the first few years training was irregular, but from 1998 it became more formalised, with membership fees and t-shirts, and the name "Wasps" was adopted.
The idea behind the Wasps has always been to offer an introduction to all events – sprinting, middle distance, throws and jumps. All are instructed in health & safety issues, the importance of stretching & should be able to use the track in a disciplined manner and be able to prepare for training independently by the time they join the older training groups on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This preparatory work prior to moving up the age groups has proven invaluable over the years as many youngsters have developed into very good athletes.
Phil eventually left the Wasps a few years ago upon the sad death of his wife.
Wendy Fuhr worked alongside Phil for some years, and she writes: "He was an amazing coach, always dedicated to the children. He had such a lovely personality and together we made wasps an accessible fun place to be. Phil always brought out the best in the children, showing them that, with dedication and training, they could achieve their goals and over the years we watched many children achieve amazing things in both track and field events. As a coaching group with Simone, Adam, Andrew and then Sam we were a group that he was very proud of. Phil will be missed by all of us. But we know that now he is at peace and is reunited with his beautiful wife."
Phil's funeral is to be held on Friday 15th March at 10.15 at St Pauls Church, Woodford Bridge. Followed by a burial at Forest Park Cemetery at 11.45 (this is optional - people are welcome to come or to straight to the pub) and then a celebration of his life at the Top Oak Pub in Stapleford Abbotts from 12. Dress: but black is not mandatory. Phil asked for donations rather than flowers. Links to Justgiving donation pages will follow soon.