Tribute to Welwyn Garden City athletics stalwart Chris Brunning

PUBLISHED: 09:40 30 March 2017 | UPDATED: 09:48 30 March 2017

This image shows runner versus cyclists in 1951 from the old gravel pit (now Gosling Stadium) railway bridge close to the present ski slope. Runners Johnny Jennings, Mott Salmon, Richard (Digger) Hills, Chris Brunning (beneath the arrow) and Graham Lindgren. Cyclist include Karl Gough, Ken Wright and Bill Whitney. The runners won the race.

This image shows runner versus cyclists in 1951 from the old gravel pit (now Gosling Stadium) railway bridge close to the present ski slope. Runners Johnny Jennings, Mott Salmon, Richard (Digger) Hills, Chris Brunning (beneath the arrow) and Graham Lindgren. Cyclist include Karl Gough, Ken Wright and Bill Whitney. The runners won the race.

Archant

The sister of a Welwyn Garden City veteran who played a key role in the town’s sporting history has paid tribute to his remarkable life after his packed funeral.

Albert Brunning, always known as Chris Brunning, was a keen runner in the town from the early 1950s, and went on to serve as chairman of Verlea Athletic Club for more than 30 years.

Born in 1928, he was brought to Welwyn Garden City by his parents at the age of two, and lived in the town nearly all his life until his death at 88 in February.

After passing his 11-plus exam, he was educated at Welwyn Garden City Grammar School (later renamed Stanborough School).

He did his National Service in the RAF, serving in Japan in the years immediately after World War Two.

His 81-year-old sister Elsie Southren, who lives in Leigh Common, Welwyn Garden City, said: “He witnessed at first hand the horrors of the nuclear weapons used against that country.”

After National Service, Chris returned to his job in the London Stock Market, staying until retirement in 1990.

He took up running and joined the amateur athletic club that eventually became Verlea, and merged in 2002 to become Herts Phoenix.

In his last years, he lived in Peartree Lane, but he had previously lived in Ludwick Way, and Broadwater Road.

Elsie said: “He was a keen long distance runner, an activity he continued well into his sixties, He also tried his hand at long distance walking, and competed in the London to Brighton (50-mile trek) several times.

“He was the chairman of Verlea for over 30 years. The funeral (on March 11) was standing room only.”

Chris’ wife Jane still lives in Welwyn Garden City, as does his other sister Doris Dodds.

He also leaves a stepson, Robert, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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