60 years of memories shared in fond farewell

Friends and athletics legends, from left, Malcolm Creed, Les Barnes, Lawrence Scheckter, Cliff Hopkins and Gavin Stocker at the Sunridge Village Shopping Centre

Armed with photographs and other memorabilia going back more than 60 years, five members of the PE Amateur Athletic Club (PEAAC) met at the Sunridge Village Shopping Centre to bid farewell to one of the boys.

Lawrence Scheckter will be emigrating to Australia to join his daughter and grandchildren later this month.

PEAAC, which was originally the PE Athletic and Cycling Club, is the oldest athletic club in Africa and the second oldest club of its kind in the world.

In its heyday, the club had more than 300 active members.

Club president Les Barnes joined the club in 1952 and immediately became junior club captain. His first task was to recruit new members.

The first of the quintet he signed up was Gavin Stocker, an outstanding hurdler who went on to captain the provincial team, which included Malcolm Creed, who was arguably the best all-rounder in the province, excelling in codes including discus and javelin.

Not long afterwards he recruited many Grey High boys, notably Creed, Cliff Hopkins and Scheckter and the five remained firm friends.

Stocker described Scheckter as one of the most dedicated members the club has had.

“Lawrie was not an outstanding athlete because of his health but because he always gave his best,” Stoker said.

“He never gave up, even if he was finishing last.

“Lawrie is a true man of God. We will miss him and wish him a long and happy life with his family Down Under.”

The sentiments were echoed by Barnes.

“Lawrie would do anything for the club,” Barnes said.

“Once we needed points desperately in a league event and needed someone to run the hurdles.

“I asked Lawrie to run the race not knowing that he had never run the hurdles before.

“He took off and was well placed until he stumbled over a hurdle, fracturing his arm and hurting his head.

“Members like him are few and far between. I will miss my friend and colleague of more than 60 years.”

Hopkins, a former roadrunner and SARA marathoner, was a promising high jumper and hurdler in his youth.

He was awarded national colours as manager of the marathon team.

Years later, Hopkins played a leading role in the transformation of athletics in the province and was the chairman of EPA.

Both Hopkins and Barnes are life members of PEAAC and EPA.

Stocker is still actively involved with the club and is an organiser of the annual Sunridge family 5km run, which takes place this Saturday.

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