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On Wednesday 11th April at “The Charter” in Aylesbury, an evening was
held to pay tribute to Vic Phillips. It was attended by his family and
friends to honour his lifetime service of over 70 years to athletics
both with Vale of Aylesbury AC and the Buckinghamshire AA (of which Vic
is a Life-Vice President).
Tribute from Peter Hoare – President of Vale of Aylesbury A.C.
We are here this evening to pay tribute to Vic Phillips, a gentleman in every sense of the word who is stepping down from a lifetime of involvement in athletics, and, who I fancy would rather retire to bed early with a cup of cocoa, which is why, out of respect for his feelings we have made this presentation tonight a small family style affair!!
I was asked to say a few words, as President of Vale of Aylesbury, on your retirement, but a few words could not in a million years even begin to cover the service you have given to the Vale and Bucks athletics.
Vic’s beginnings with our sport began in 1939 (the club was reformed the previous year) and by April membership was more than 40. Competition in track and field was mainly friendly inter-club matches against the likes of Wycombe Phoenix, Slough and R A F Halton. Training was on Tuesdays and Thursdays on the Aylesbury Rugby Club ground in Buckingham road. In May one of the clubs organised Thursday evening races, and the novices Quarter mile was won by a certain Vic Phillips then 17 years old. He also won the Junior Discus.
During the year he competed in the 220 yards (200 metres to the newcomers), Medley Relays and the Javelin. That year he won 3 Junior Club Championships as well as 2 novice titles. Not a bad start!! But by September, as he was in the Territorials he was called up and joined an “ack ack” regiment for the duration of World War 2 and with it, probably, his best athletic years were lost, as with many of his generation, for the duration of the war.
On demob in 1946 he resumed his membership of the “Vale” and ran his first post war 440 yards race finishing third at Chesham Bank Holiday Sports in front of a crowd of 3000.
Athletics tracks in those far off days were either grass or cinder and track shoes black leather with a solid leather forefoot sole having a steel plate sandwiched into the sole which contained 5 steel spikes. Those spikes were about 15mm long. I know, I had a pair in the 50s and if you were accidentally spiked, you certainly knew about it!!
Vic continued with his athletics during 1947 and 1948 and this in the days when Hazell’s Sports on a Bank Holiday Monday in August attracted 200 entries, including two international runners and 9000 spectators.
One anecdote Vic relayed to Dick Hills concerned a meeting in Wolverton. Working at the printers Hazell Watson & Viney, running on a Saturday afternoon was difficult as Vic had to be at work on Saturday mornings. So, having rushed to get to the meeting, he competed all afternoon and was due to run in the VoA sprint relay team, the last event – due moments before the train was due in. Cue the Aylesbury sprint team barely breaking stride or slowing down after the race legging it to Wolverton station.
And so Vic, in recognition of your much valued association with the Vale of Aylesbury, we would like to present you with this voucher to put towards you having your old cine films and slides transferred to DVD, and with it our warmest congratulations and very best wishes.
Tribute from Eddie Gutteridge (Buckinghamshire Athletic Association)
It is a privilege to speak on behalf of officials past and present for the Bucks AA about a time keeper extra ordinaire. Having been timekeeping with Vic for some 18 years, I did pressurize John How, President, and Lance Free, Chairman, (both here tonight) for me to have my say.
Vic, a real gentleman of athletics, could always create a good laugh at meetings but so efficient, professional and friendly on the timekeeping stand.
When did he first start to press his stop watch in anger? When John How and I had just moved into long trousers to go to Tech School at 13. The same year as the Empire Games of Jim Peters Marathon and Roger Bannister/Jim Landy of 1 mile fame held in Vancouver. The venue was the Youth Relays at Park Street Social Club in Aylesbury in 1954.
Vic worked at Hazell, Watson and Viney, printers in Aylesbury, and in 1981 was due for a long service award for 40 years. Management in those days were quite finicky on what you should probably have – like a wrist watch, pendulum wall clock, book on the history of the firm etc. Vic knew what he wanted – an increase to his timekeeping armoury. Vic without hesitation fired out “a stop watch”. Not popular. A story goes that there was a moment of silence from the guvnor. However, Vic won the day, the rest is history.
His track timekeeping with the club took him to all areas of Southern England plus events at Stoke Mandeville Stadium for those athletes with disabilities. In addition he was always present at Bucks and County Schools events.
A total commitment, but it did not end there. Moving to Road and Cross Country his presence at events is beyond compare with regular attendance at County AA and Schools Cross Country races.
However, speaking to colleagues, I will mention a few events where Vic was ever present, they could not remember when he was not there.
Magnificent – what more can one say!
On Monday I received a letter from John and Fred Barwick – it says:
Vic was always very friendly and would always have a good laugh with all the officials at the Disabled athletic meetings at Stoke Mandeville. He will be sadly missed by everyone. Best wishes in his retirement from officiating.
And so say all of us.
Vic, you may have laid your watches down, however in view of the friendship and enjoyment you have given so many people, and your commitment to Bucks athletics, it was agreed at a recent Bucks AA committee meeting that you receive a memento.
In appreciation of 58 years dedicated service
to Buckinghamshire Athletics
An Exemplary Timekeeper
11th April 2012