Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
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Bob Parker - A Special Person (February 2018)

Bob Parker, who died in his 80’s in January (2018) made a fantastic contribution to athletics coaching, in his own special way with tremendous enthusiasm for the sport.
He used to firstly run with his athletes then later, cycle beside them on their runs.
All from his home in the North London area and, he had an open house for all the athletes who wanted to use it. One of those was a very great friend of Dave Bedford, called Mike Beevor, who ran in the international cross-country for England several times and,
also a 4.1 miler with the BMC. He took it a step even further by saying about Bob Parker
“We will never see the likes again. He was very special”

Bob and Sylvia his wife, who were founder members of Parkside AC, were a second family to Dave Bedford, as they spent so much time together at Bob’s house. To me Bob and Dave appeared to be two of the most naturally genuine characters in the athletics fraternity.
Bob Parker was President of Shaftesbury Barnet from 1982-85 and in 2010 obtained the England Athletics services award to coaching athletes, which was some 40 years after he had started out coaching. He never charged a penny for coaching anyone and it was not just training for his club mates Julian Goater & Bedford but others, like Mara Yamauchi, Alison Wyeth and Andrea Witcombe.

Dave Bedford, who still holds the British record for 10,000 when he broke the World record on the 13th of July 1973 with 27:30.8 said to me in 1976, towards the end of his career
Bob has developed with me. We started out together; he was very much a club coach with a few basic ideas and he told me what to do. I have known him 8 or 9 years now and we are very close friends. I don’t look upon him as my coach and he does not look upon me as his athlete; we look upon each other as friends and the situation just develops from there. The same way you would advise a friend is the same way he advises me with athletics”.

Alastair Aitken

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