Gordon Chaffey ~ Loss of a club stalwart

Posted by Peter Newton 0335 on 1 February 2019

Gordon Chaffey sadly passed away on 23 January 2019. He joined Portsmouth Athletic Club (as it was known then) in the early 1950s. His older brother Jack, 5 years his senior, was also a member of the club, joining in the mid-late 1940's. Both specialised in the longer sprint of 440yards, consistently running times of 51 seconds. He was an invaluable member of successful track teams competing and was Club captain in 1957. Unfortunately, his athletic career never reached its full potential hindered by eye problems.


According to one of his life-long pals and club mate, Gordon caused a bit of a stir when he started competing for the club, not just because he was quick, but because he was quick and in the unusual racing gear of a football strip! (his previous hobby before taking up athletics). Gordon was club champion over both 220 &440yds and in 1963 and in 1966 was part of the 4x110yd, 4x 440yd and medley relay Hampshire championship winning teams. Gordon was in good company with his club training group over the years, all of either national or international standards, Alongside Mel Barfoot there was GB 880yd representative Peter Kilford, David Stensen, David Fudge, all becoming life long friends, together with GB & Bermuda sprint international Orien Young. 


 After hanging up his spikes he continued to support the Club in a variety of official capacities until recent years. He could regularly be seen at local track events as a Marksman/Starter or sometimes acting as linesman for Chief marksman David Stensen, "Always ready to have a laugh with the athletes on the start line" so remembers June Jones.


Gordon could often be seen trackside watching his granddaughter Rachel ('Papa' as he was known), having fun with the other young athletes.


 If Gordon wasn't officiating at a local track meet, for many years he could be seen spreading his humour on the start line with the kids of the Junior Great South Run, at local track races for children with learning disabilities,  with athletes at the Kidney Transplant Games and if not any of these, then helping out with our road races, the Victory 5 and the D Day 10k, organising the Start/Finish area .


Gordon also generously gave his time supporting colleagues on our club committee and playing an important part in the formation of the Portsmouth Joggers Club.


Gordon served his apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer in the Portsmouth Dockyard, eventually gaining the title of 'Principle'. This job entailed managing the gradual streamlining of the workforce, which proved very unpopular with some employees at times, occasionally having chaps turning up at his front door or posting a letter to him, venting their anger and frustrations to him!


Gordon's infectious good humour helped him tremendously to continue to laugh in the face of adversity as Parkinson's disease took hold of him. His wife Monica was his constant supporter and our heartfelt good wishes are extended to her.



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