Tribute from Tim Hutchings

“Like with the passing of so many of life’s most precious things, we only really appreciate Frank fully now that we no longer have access to them. I wish I’d spent more time with Frank in recent years but am enormously privileged to have been coached by him and to have got to know him so well in the 70s and 80s.

My close relationship with Frank extended from 1975 to 1990 and during that period he took me from being a spindly schoolboy runner to an Olympian and more than useful exponent of cross country running. Frank put me through plenty of his “man-killer” sessions during those years and I reaped the benefits again and again; all he wanted in return was to see me working hard and allowing the potential within his schedules to be realised. He was not faultless, but he was 99% right on most things in my experience; and that’s a level of success that few of us can ever hope to reach.

If we in his squad of the 80s disagreed about something, Frank would tell us exactly “how to get off” but more often than not we followed his lead. He was as charismatic as anyone I’ve ever known but didn’t rely on that quality to impress us; until late middle-age and beyond, he could do most of the strengthening exercises he expected we athletes to do – and do them better than most of us. I never could do a one-legged squat (going right down and back up), but Frank was doing them in his 60s.

More importantly for me personally however, through his discipline and coaching and astonishing love of life, Frank helped me to a level of achievement and self-respect that I would almost certainly not have achieved outside of sport and if I’d not met him. He has given these same benefits to hundreds and hundreds before me and since; the sport of Athletics and the world as a whole, is a much poorer place for Frank’s departure because that production line has all but ended; thankfully the BMC does a great deal to maintain that flow.

Frank had a capacity to enjoy life and find happiness from the simplest and most modest of existences; if folk knew how little he consumed, how little he wanted materially, they’d be staggered. He was at heart, a very good man.

Tim Hutchings

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