We have been saddened to learn of the recent death of one of our ex coaches, John Turner. John died suddenly on the 18th December during a visit to his allotment. John was 82.
John was a no-nonsense merchant seaman who coached international athletes David Nelson and Jason John, alongside Charles Taylor at Wolverhampton and Bilston, prior to joining Cannock & Stafford AC.
Whilst at C&S, he looked after the senior men’s team at the club. At training sessions at Cannock Stadium, he would hold a session for the young athletes in the early evening before taking his sprint group later on. On meeting days, he would often work in the café serving drinks and snacks as well as encouraging his athletes.
He demanded full effort from the athletes in his group and, in return, he gave them his full support.
Along with our past President, Derek Fellows, John was instrumental in trying to save the old Cannock Stadium and they attended many meetings with Cannock councillors, albeit unsuccessfully as they wouldn’t change their decision.
He retired from athletics in his mid 70s to spend time with his wife, Sandra.
Derek Fellows said “John was a member of Wolverhampton & Bilston in their glory years and a close assistant to David Coleman who was their president. He used to attend most of the major championships and if David Coleman wanted to interview someone John was sent to arrange it. John was a sprints coach and among many athletes he coached, Denise Lewis was probably the most successful winning Olympic gold. John was very proud of his service as a merchant seaman and could always be seen as their flag bearer at memorial services.”
Our condolences go to his wife, Sandra, family and friends.
A number of John’s former athletes paid tribute:-
“I first met John in 1996 at a sports hall athletics competition at Weston Road high school. He came up to me and gave me his business card and asked me if I’d like to join his training group. I was over the moon. I can remember the very first session I did with his group, I was last in everything. They were all so good. Over the years I slowly progressed through the ranks and eventually became his right hand man.
He taught me so much over the years. Hard work, loyalty, leadership, friendship and passion. When I stop to think about the commitment he gave to Cannock and Stafford Athletic club and especially to his athletes it makes me smile. We really did take for granted the fact that he and all the other amazing coaches at the club gave up so much of their time to coach us, all for free!
John would pick me up for Training, take me to competitions and always be there for me. Together we built an amazing squad of talented individuals, Young and old. We really were a band of brothers and sisters, Many of them I am still friends with to this day. There is no bond like the one that is created on the track, and I made so many of them.
Our group and the club enjoyed lots of success over the years and I know he was proud of all of us. He truly was my Father on the track. My heart broke when I found out he had passed. He went like a champ in true JT style. In his passing he had brought our group back together. So many different era’s We have all been sharing our stories together. It’s been lovely.
When he hung up his stop watch 8 years ago it was because he met his lovely wife Sandra. She made him so happy, I could see that from day one. She really did put a spring in his step. This has given me such comfort to know that he was so happy in his last years. They enjoyed lots of happy times together.
I’m so proud to have been a part of his life and he a part of mine. He brought so many people together and I’ll always be thankful for that. All that’s left to say with a heavy heart is goodbye my friend. Rest easy big man and give them hell up there. You’ll be truly missed.”
“To me John was just “the guy”. The absolute role model of what a person should be like. Kind-hearted and supportive are what come to mind. He was always there for me, in life and on the track. Countless times he would travel with us to whatever small race it was, anywhere in the country, he was there giving the guidance and support you needed. Such a selfless person and I’m so glad he was a part of my life and will forever miss you Coach John. I will still hear you shouting “Arms” at me for the rest of my life, and that makes me so happy because I know I will always remember you!”
“John was a huge inspiration to me and pushed me to some achievements that I would never have dreamed of achieving. He didn't just take a coaching interest in us, he was personally invested in helping us improve. He often drove miles out of his way to pick me up and take me training (even on New Years Day!!!!). His belief in me is still with me today. “
“I had the pleasure of training with John for 7 years - I say pleasure, if you would have asked me that back then I could've thought of a different name for it! Although I didn’t realise it at the time, John's coaching and mentoring from an early age, formed the foundations of invaluable Life Lessons - to which I still stand-by to this day! In the line of work I do now, I can honestly say I wouldn't be doing it without the guidance I had from John.
When I reflect back on how much time, dedication and love he gave and never asked for anything in return, we really do realise truly how much of a pivotal figure he was in our lives. And although sometimes it was tough love, we'd always thank him for it and know he had our best interests at heart. He really will be missed.”
“John was such a great person and coach. He supported our team no matter what the weather and never failed to motivate us to do our best. Training with John and the team are some of the best years of my life, he always believed in me and pushed me to achieve my goals. He loved to treat us at Christmas to a lovely hand wrapped gift and he was always smiling. You could hear his voice from the next county shouting arms! Or faster! and he definitely had eyes in the back of his head, as he never missed a trick. He was so special and I am so glad I managed to make his wedding day and see him so happy. He really was a true legend and had the kindest heart.”
“John was sometimes a little bit old-fashioned in his training methods however an incredibly knowledgeable guy and I’m very grateful for him to have been part of my life. His lunchbox on meeting day was the size of a suitcase. He loved each and every member of the Sprint group but I think personally loved the lads a little bit more as he gave them a much harder time than the girls. “
“John was simply an inspirational man. Right up until his last moments he worked hard doing what he loved and I’m sure everyone will agree he instilled the same work ethic in everybody who he coached. He pushed us to the absolute limit and wouldn’t accept anything less than 110%, I can’t begin to thank him for the lessons he has taught us and the friendships we have made along the way. “
“There are so many fond memories I have of our great coach and surrogate father John Turner, one of them being when I started playing rugby at 15yrs old for my school team, only to be greeted by John at half-time storming across the rugby pitch and saying to my teacher ‘Jon won’t be playing Rugby anymore as he has to focus on his running!’ I was swiftly substituted and never played rugby again while under John’s tutelage!
This is what I remember of him, hard, no nonsense approach, didn’t accept excuses and demanded everything you had in each session or competition and in our efforts to be a good person outside the athletic arena. In return he offered fatherly care, love and a selflessness that I haven’t seen since. He is someone who taught me what real work ethic looks like and its rewards, gave me friends that I will have forever, sharing some of my most treasured experiences with. He gave me a healthy output throughout my young years and showed me what caring for others looks like. John Turner’s influence on my life is easily seen everyday in my approach to my work, relationships and ambitions. Thank you for everything coach.”
“John was a passionate man and was the epitome of no pain, no gain. He made sure that we left nothing but blood, sweat and tears on the track in each and every session. Although we’d often curse him afterwards, since our bodies had taken a true beating, he taught many people an important lesson, which is to never give up whenever the going gets tough. This is something I know a lot of people, including myself, will take with me throughout the rest of my life.
I can say that with the energy that John brought to the team, friends and brotherhoods were made for life and that is something I’ll always be grateful for.”
“I wouldn’t be the man I am today if it wasn’t for John Turner being in my life. John took me into his athletics group when I was a young, insecure 15 year old lad. He taught me a level of self discipline I would never have known myself capable of reaching and gave me the belief to achieve things I would have thought otherwise impossible. I also take away from that group genuine friends for life in the form of Jamie and Adam, both of whom meant the world to John. There are so many reasons to be thankful for John Turner stepping into my life (including that I will never run again without remembering to drive those arms) and it fills my heart with warmth knowing he had love and happiness in his life when he passed. “
“Despite my ageing year's John welcomed me into the group and treated me like any other athlete which helped me push on and enjoy my athletics beyond my wildest dreams!”
“John was the kindest, softest man I’ve ever met. Under his tough exterior was a wise and gentle man. I will never forget how much John did for me growing up, he has and will always have a special place in my heart. The first time I had a training session with him he made me cry, that lit a fire in my belly that has never gone out. Athletics with John and the running family will always be one of my favourite times of my life and will be with me forever. “
“It’s hard to believe our gentle giant of a coach and mentor has gone. His love and support to us all were immeasurable.
He dedicated his life to track and field and to our group. We were a family and we had the best times, albeit pretty gruelling! Those hills at Milford could tell some stories. I can still hear his booming voice across the track now when I collapsed at the line, post 400m session, “GET UP OFF THE FLOOR BEFORE RIGOR MORTIS SETS IN”. Needless to say I got up!
He encouraged and believed in me; and I have carried his words and positivity, that he instilled in me as a youngster, throughout my adult life. Nothing brings me greater pride and admiration in saying that I was one of his team. “
Nicky Pestel (Lake)
“You always called me Bethlum, no matter how many times we’d tried to correct you, but it always made us smile. You’d tell us if we didn’t feel sick by the end of a session we hadn’t trained hard enough, and you’d always tell us off for talking too much when warming up and doing our laps. You were the kindest, most supportive coach I’ve ever had, and also hilarious always making us laugh with your boxing, modelling, claim to fame stories! Your voice travelled for miles and you’d always be in shorts, thanks for your out the box training techniques like telling me to practice my runner arms when brushing my hair! “
“Got all the standard training stories, but one thing that really sticks with me is that he took the time to come and watch me play rugby - not even some of my family did that. Just to show an interest in what you were trying to achieve outside of the track and to put his own time in just to support you. What a guy. I'm emotional even remembering it. He was like having an extra grandad/uncle. In true John style he spent the whole 80 minutes on the sideline, with the dog, shouting "sprint!" every time I got the ball!”
C&S Health and Safety
The Club's Health and Safety Policy has been added to the website. All members should read (It's only just over a page long) to understand YOUR responsibilities as a member.
If you attend club training sessions regularly, are a qualified first aider and would be happy to be added to our list of first aiders, please let Shaun know.
Unfortunately, following the Government's announcement earlier this evening, the track will now be closed at all times until further notice. No training is allowed as Freedom have to close the sports facilities at the park.
We have agreed the following arrangements with Freedom Leisure regarding track availability under the current Tier 4 restrictions. Please note that this may change at very short notice depending on Government advice.
Athletes over 18 are currently allowed to train individually or with one other person (other athlete or coach) only. Under 18s are still allowed to train in groups in organised sessions.
As a club, we can not, therefore, hold sessions for over 18s but will hold sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for under 18s.
Track availability is as follows:
MONDAY – Track available for individual training during the day. Payment to be made to Rangers. Park will close at 5pm (no evening training).
TUESDAY - Track available for individual training during the day. Payment to be made to Rangers. Individuals to have cleared the track by 6pm. Evening Club session for Under 18s only in prearranged coached sessions. No over 18s allowed. Payment for club session to be made to whoever you normally pay at the club.
WEDNESDAY – Track available for individual training during the day and evening until 8pm. Payment to be made to Rangers
THURSDAY - Track available for individual training during the day. Payment to be made to Rangers. Individuals to have cleared the track by 6pm. Evening Club session for Under 18s in prearranged coached sessions. Individual athletes are not allowed but there may be the possibility for coaches to attend with one individual athlete if prearranged with Shaun (we are currently seeking guidance on this). Payment for club session to be made to whoever you normally pay at the club.
FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY - Track available for individual training during the normal park opening hours. Payment to be made to Rangers.
Please make sure you comply with the Government guidelines. Freedom could remove access to the track altogether if athletes do not comply.
Freedom will limit the number of individuals on the track to ensure guidelines are complied with.
Groups of under 18s must be supervised by a fully qualified coach (or have a fully qualified coach on site overseeing the session) and coaches are not allowed to take part in the session.
If you are still unclear, or have any queries, please contact me direct or ask your coach.