Athlete, Club Captain, Technical Official, Referee, Team Manager, WAAA Committee Member, Founder Life Vice-President of the AAA of England
I was born Jill Dudderidge on 30th May 1937 in Wembley, Middlesex.
The war curtailed most professional sport but soon afterwards my mother took me to Wembley Stadium to see the Speedway and occasionally to the Arena for Ice Hockey. In 1947 we went to White City Stadium to watch The British Games (men’s intercounty athletics meeting) and I was amazed at the ability of those athletes. In 1948 we attended all the athletics event at the Olympic Games.
That year I started at the local grammar school (Preston Manor) and enjoyed hockey, netball, tennis and athletics. I won everything I could compete in – sprints, hurdles, long jump and relay. I progressed through district, county to the English Schools AA Championships where I came 3rd in the Senior 220yards in Manchester, winning the following year in Plymouth. In those days (the early to mid-1950s) women were not allowed to run 400m internationally so I was confined to competing at 200m. There was nothing over 1500m, no 400m hurdles, steeplechase, triple jump, pole vault nor hammer for women. The 400m was introduced in 1958.
Training consisted of track work on Sunday mornings, Tuesday and Thursday evenings, gym work including circuit training, weight training and some games of Badminton on Mondays and Wednesdays and Hockey or Athletics on Saturdays. I worked full-time and had very little opportunity for socialising. My cinder training track was of poor quality without floodlighting. In the winter there were 8 Tilley lamps around the track which made sprinting quite hazardous at times.
I represented Great Britain and England during 1957 but had serious surgery in early 1958, which prevented my taking part in either the Empire Games or the European Championships that year. I did achieve some respectable 400m times in the following 3 years but not quite good enough for international representation. My coach, Ron Jewkes was an exceptional man, a previous international 400m runner himself just before the war, who insisted on a daily training diary which proved invaluable. The workload was considerably less than full-time athletes follow these days with no other work commitments, but I enjoyed the life. Kit in those days was very primitive – we wore heavy , thick, navy tracksuits with red trim for the 1957 meetings in Poland and Germany, which had to be returned after each meeting. My best times were 24.7 and 55.7. I really wished that I could have competed at 400m Hurdles – I was born a bit too early! In 1961 I married Chris Lindsay, also an international 400m runner.
My athletics involvement changed after competing as a Vet. As well as being my club’s (Middlesex Ladies AC) captain and treasurer for many years I became a track and field official in 1970 and was appointed a Track Referee in 1977. I officiated at all levels and at many National and International meetings, culminating in refereeing The World Cup at Crystal Palace in 1994 and being a member of the Jury of Appeal at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada the same year.
I was Secretary of the Southern Counties Women’s Athletics Association for seven years in the 70s and a member of both WAAA and British Board committees, including selecting teams for Olympic Games. I was variously President/Chairman of both the Middlesex WAAA and then Middlesex AA as well as both the SCWAAA and SCAA and was honoured with Life Membership of my club and Middlesex CAAA and as a Founder Life Vice President of the AAA.
My athletics involvement also included membership of the British and English Team Management, travelling all over Europe and to Australia and New Zealand, as Head of Delegation, Team Manager or Admin Officer, when once at Linford Christie’s first international meeting, I was asked to hold all his jewellery while he competed.
I realised while helping with some preparations for the Women’s Amateur Athletics Association Centenary Exhibition that I was competing little more than 30 years after the formation of the WAAA in 1922. How everything has changed but I enjoyed my “amateur” involvement in this great sport. However I was very grateful for my love of most sports when I contracted Covid 19 just as the Commonwealth Games started in Birmingham!