by Jane Renouf

DEDICATED Ambleside Sports president Geoff Atkinson has retired from his post after eight successful years.

And his departure was marked in novel style at the organisation's annual general meeting last week when he was presented with a unique badge of office – a traditional Cumberland & Westmorland wrestling strip embroidered in gold thread with his name.

He was also presented with a photograph of himself presenting Ambleside Guides Race winner and GB and English international Simon Bailey with his award at last year's event.

Paying tribute to Mr Atkinson, who will be replaced by former chairman and club stalwart Jak Hirst, current chairman Marjorie Blackburn said one of the many highlights of his spell in charge was the coup of hosting the first Ladies' World Cumberland & Westmorland Championships three years ago.

Mrs Blackburn told the meeting Ambleside Sports was a flourishing entity which continued to thrive because of the commitment, hard work and support it receives.

She noted that hot weather brought out the crowds on the field at Rydal and increased the takings on the gate, which helped reverse the fortunes of the previous two years’ losses due to bad weather.

In fact, it was so hot on the day that extra supplies of water had to be delivered on the field and two of the hound trails were declared void because the over-heating dogs couldn’t return within the specified time.

There were good numbers competing in most races, particularly fell and guide races - and a new race category for the over 70s may have to be added to the 40s, 50s and 60s age groups in the Rydal Round.

The children’s Sports were another spectacular success with three heats needed for most events and more than 400 rosettes presented.

Despite extra expenses this year, the Sports donated £4,550 to the helper organisations such as the Christmas Lights and Rotary and to the Sports’ bursary scheme to support youngsters in sport.

Awards of over £7,000 went in prizes and trophies at the Sports.

The AGM also heard from Tommy Sedgwick, one of the greats in fell running, who suggested an important change to the Senior Guides Race.

Pointing out that the course had become steeper over the years since he and rival and record holder Fred Reeves had battled it out, he suggested the latter's record should now be recorded as unbroken and new records logged from now on.

“The course has got steeper downhill than the one I used to race with Fred, due to circumstances such as fencing, and there’s no way runners could now reach Fred’s time,” he said.

“This is such a prestigious race, it would be best to have a new record so runners can compare this years’s time with the following year's.”