Reg Eade, our Life President, recently celebrated his 90th birthday. Poor health means that Reg can’t get to Club events anymore and could easily be dismissed just as a name on the Club’s website. In a real sense, Reg IS a major part of the history of BMHAC. Here are some highlights of his sporting life.
Basingstoke AC was founded in the 1920’s, reforming in 1948 at Church Cottage. Reg was a founder member of the Club post war and was working as an engineering apprentice for J. Thorneycroft on the site of the current Morrison’s supermarket.
Early competitive career
In those days, Reg was a sprinter, running races on grass tracks, for example, in the Memorial Park and at the Old Basing Flower Show. At that stage, he won the Club’s Junior 100 and 220 yards Championships. He also watched the 1948 Olympics at the White City Stadium; a major inspiration.
In 1951 Reg started his military service in the RAF and from 1951 served in Singapore, Malaya and Sri Lanka. Before leaving for Singapore in 1951, Reg married his fiancée Marie, who has been his partner ever since. Their two daughters, Linda and Carol, became keen members of BAC.
Civilian Life and Club Expansion
After leaving the RAF in 1954, Reg returned to the Club and competitive athletics and was elected as Club Captain in 1955. Rapid expansion of BAC was happening and its first international athlete, Janet Ruff was winning international 440 yard races in record time, though women’s records were not recognised over 220 yards!
The Club’s major promotion at that time was an open meeting as part of the annual Carnival in Memorial Park, with entrants from all over the South of England. Further expansion occurred in the 1960s and the first 6 mile ‘Round the Houses’ race from the Basingstoke Football Ground happened in 1965. One Ian Byett took over organisational duties in 1967! The ‘Round the Houses’ became the ‘Klix Six’, still with Ian at the helm, until its demise in 2002.
Reg’s athletic career was now blighted by injury problems and after dabbling with middle distance races with mixed results, he took up race walking. This was his major competitive focus for the next 29 years. Reg gained many individual victories and other placings in well established races such as the Chippenham to Calne, a well known race at the time but now no more.
He picked up World Masters 20km team bronze in Sweden in 1977 and individual bronze at the inaugural European Track and Field Masters Championships the following year. A team silver followed in the World Masters in 1979 over 20kms. Around this time BAC had a thriving race walking section, fielding teams to races around the South. The Club held its first 10 mile Open race walk from 1967 to 1998, which Reg directed and also frequently completed.
In 1982, Reg developed chronic sciatica that landed him in hospital. A long period of recovery included learning to walk again and eventually to walking holidays with Marie and a new interest in rambling lasting many years.
Life President and Off Track
Eventually Reg returned to competition, retiring only in 1997. with more notable performances. Events were taking Reg into a new phase of his athletics career as he was elected President of Hampshire AAA and qualified as a track judge. He continued as a judge for 12 years.
Reg was elected BAC President in 1986, only retiring in 2004 when the Committee elected him as Life President. The merger with Mid Hants AC happened under Reg’s leadership in 1990.
BAC and now BMHAC has developed enormously over the time Reg has been involved. Its list of international athletes from Janet Ruff onwards is impressive for a town of our size, with Olympic bronze medals amongst the honours gained by BMHAC athletes under Reg’s Presidency.
At 90, Reg remains enormously proud of the Club (and Arsenal!) and his contribution to its success. He has served in just about every role the Club has to offer and is one of the cornerstones on which our community of athletes is founded. Reg has provided a detailed history of the Club that can be found elsewhere on the website.