George Beecham, 1931-2020
WITH THE PASSING of George BEECHAM Belgrave has lost a walker who had a unique record. Joining the Club in 1950 he served his apprenticeship as the RWA introduced the 1 hour races to give awards based on the distance covered. At the same time a Junior event over 5 miles was introduced, and with George in the Belgrave team it was then we heard that in preparation he had walked from his home in Sutton to Brighton for a work out! Soon he was selected for the National Ten at Stockport where he was in the third placed team - the first placing for some years. Within in a few years he found a liking for the longer distances. One name in particular appears with Beecham - Nijmegen. In 1923 a British group had taken part in a then famed Dutch Walk in Nijmegen and were presented with an award which was adopted by the RWA for the first club team finishing all 8 men in the National 20 miles championship. Belgrave won, over the years, the Nijmegen Trophy several times. Few Clubs recorded more than three such occasions but George was a member of the Belgrave winning team eight times. That trophy is no longer competed for, but George went to Holland to take part in the original marches on at least 17 occasions covering 55kms a day for four days.
George worked tirelessly for our sport and as an example it was usual to see him doing a walk round the course for the Nicola '5' held on Canvey, then probably racing in the event and clearing up afterwards. Over the years we always parted by agreeing that we had competed in the best of years, having the best of times with the best of Clubs - RIP George.
George loved the longer distance races, particularly the classic London to Brighton Race. Our pictures left and below show George in the 1950s, while that on the right is from 1964, where he is receiving welcome refreshment from his attendant Cyril Yescombe.