It is with great sadness that the club has has learnt of the death of former member this week Ken Bennett.
Obituary – Kendrick H Bennett.
After a long illness of leading official and former club member Welsh international athlete Ken Bennett on October 28th at the age of 77.
Kens grandsons Jac & Harri Hooper-Lewis regularly represented the club from 2007 to 2012 before moving to Australia. Ken is pictured above on the big screen lighting the flame of the Olympic torch on 26th May 2012, at Singleton Park as it travelled on the Olympic Torch relay.
Clive Williams remembers a fine athlete and administrator:
In his running days he was a key member of the very strong Birchgrove Harriers middle distance team which swept all before them in the mid to late 1960s. In particular he was a fine 880 yards runner with a best time of 1:54.0 (1:53.3 for 800m) set in 1966 on the loose cinder tracks of the day. With today’s all-weather surfaces that time is worth at the very least a second faster. His other best times included a mile time of 4:17.0 (3:59.0 1500m) and 52.0 for 440 yards (51.7 400m).
1966 was his best year as he finished as runner-up to Tony Harris – the first Welshman to run a mile in under 4 minutes – in the Welsh championships 880 yards. The previous year he was a member of the Birchgrove team that took the inaugural AAA (UK) 4 x 1 mile title with team members Bernie Plain, Bill Stitfall and John Godding.
There is no doubt that he was a fine athlete but it was on the administrative front that he really excelled. In particular, his eye for detail made him one of the first in Wales to become involved with athletics statistics when along with this writer, he compiled the first deep Welsh ranking lists covering the 1961 season when we were both teenagers. Subsequently he became statistician to the Welsh AAA acting as custodian of all Welsh records.
He was a member of the Birchgrove development committee which produced The Birchgrove Report in 1968, a 73 page publication which became the blueprint for the formation of athletics clubs in the UK. It was that report which recommended the amalgamation of the then two Cardiff clubs – Birchgrove and Roath – to form Cardiff AAC in 1968.
On retiring from competitive athletics, he became one of the key officials of the new club, firstly becoming track and field secretary and then in 1974 general secretary.
Shortly afterwards his job took him to Swansea where he joined the local club, Swansea Harriers. Here he made a significant impact in the rise of the club – formed out of Cockett Boys Club in 1962 – which eventually became a member of the British League. He became a committee member and devoted the same enthusiasm to his new club as he did for his home-town club, Cardiff. He developed into a very efficient meeting director for several major events in Swansea as well as a track official for matches held in Swansea and for Welsh championship events. In the latter position, his statistical knowledge stood him in good stead for his role as seeding officer.
It was down to Ken that the idea of the local U11 & U13 triangular matches (Swansea, Neath, Llanelli) was inaugurated to provide competition for the large number of young athletes not able to make the Youth Development League teams.
In 2001 a small group of individuals got together to write the history of Welsh athletics. Ken was an automatic choice to become part of that group, but work commitments prevented him from doing so. The 640 page, two volume History of Welsh Athletics was published in 2002.
A fitting accolade to his sterling service to Swansea Harriers came in the 2012 London Olympic year, when he was chosen to carry the Olympic Torch on the last leg of the stage into Swansea to light the flame in a ceremony in Singleton Park.
At this point I have to declare an interest. Ken was one of my closest friends and was best man at my wedding in 1973. We had been friends for almost 60 years.
I hope that I have done justice in a very small way to one of the vast army of volunteers who make our sport what it is. Without the likes of Ken Bennett there would not be a sport of athletics in the UK.
Deepest sympathies go to his wife Glenda and his children and grandchildren.
The funeral will take place at Llanelli Crematorium on 12th November at 12 noon. Attendance at the funeral is restricted to family members only due to covid19 and the family give their apologies that more of you can’t attend. Family Flowers only. Donations can be made to Alzheimer’s Society and sent to Anthony Inkin and Paul Deans, Funeral Directors, 3 Belle Vue, Penclawdd, Swansea, SA4 3YE.