Athlete, Club Secretary, WAAA Committee Member, Judge, AAA of England Regional Director, Life Vice President of AAA
Jan Febery joined Cheltenham Ladies Harriers in 1971 enjoying cross-country and middle-distance events. She became involved in running the club shortly after joining and became involved with Midland WAAA and the WAAA in 1984.
Jan Febrey joined Cheltenham Ladies Harriers in 1971 enjoying cross-country and middle-distance events. She became involved in running the club shortly after joining and became involved with Midland WAAA and the WAAA in 1984.
Jan’s involvement in athletics over five decades, spanning the period of amalgamation and the immense changes in the administration of the sport, demonstrates the relationship between athletics clubs and governing bodies. It also provides us with an insight into the amount of time and dedication given to athletics by organisers, committee members, and officials, all on a voluntary basis, to keep clubs, events and the sport itself available for athletes of all levels, and of the enjoyment that can be found in athletics in many guises.
‘I have very happy memories of WAAA events and Committee meetings. I was a Midland representative to WAAA Committee from 1984. I remember the WAAA as a very efficient committee who got things done well. I always went home feeling the Committee had achieved all that needed to be done which is not always the case with Committee meetings. Everyone was willing to do whatever was requested of them. It was a happy co-operative group of people. When attending committee meetings those of us who had travelled far would dash out to ‘up market’ shops at lunchtime or get up extra early to shop first.’
As well as Midland representative to the WAAA Jan was a regular track judge at WAAA Championships and track and field judge for multi event championships and was therefore well placed to be sent on a mission for the WAAA in 1986 to review new events for female athletes.
I felt very honoured to be asked to be the Official Observer at the first triple jump trial to be held on 18th June 1986. I travelled the 90 miles from my home in Cheltenham to Stoke on Trent one evening after work.
To compile my report I was required to speak to each athlete both before and after the competition and record their feelings and views on the event. John Crotty National Triple Jump Coach was in attendance, also John Bailey Sprints Coach and the National Long Jump Coach. I spoke to each of them and recorded their comments.
Pole Event, hammer and steeplechase were the other ‘new disciplines’ which were later ‘observed’ and carefully monitored before being approved for competition. These trials were held many years after they were initially considered, and some athletes had already tried them out!’
Jan’s involvement in Athletics coincided with the amalgamation of the WAAA and AAA. She became one of the Midland Representatives on the newly established British Athletics Federation General Committee and Midland Regional Director on the AAA of England Board. Clubs too became mixed; ‘before we became one club I was invited to be Chairman of the Cheltenham Men’s Harriers (I was already Chairman of the Cheltenham Ladies Harriers) and steered the amalgamation of the two clubs to the one club it now is.’
Jan was made Life Vice President of AAA in 2001 at the AAA AGM at Edgbaston Cricket Ground in recognition of her work in athletics. 51 years after taking on the post of Club Secretary at Cheltenham Ladies Harriers and more than 40 years since joining the Midland Women’s AAA Jan continues to be involved with Athletics and is currently a member of the MCAA Board of Management.
Although the official amalgamation of the WAAA and AAA was decided in an Extraordinary General Meeting which took place in March 1991, the athletics calendar did not and does not stop; events already organised had to be completed. Therefore, in February 1992 Cheltenham and County Harriers staged the Women’s Cross-Country Championships at Cheltenham Racecourse which had been a couple of years in the planning. Organised by ladies who had been part of the WAAA it was to be the last, the following year seeing the first combined Men and Women’s Championships.