John Baker RIP

Cowsi Magol writes:

It is with great sadness that we have to report that John Baker passed away this morning.  John had a heart attack from which he never recovered, although attempts were made by the paramedics to revive him. It was very quick and John did not suffer. It was only on Wednesday morning that the small group of Evergreens were out for “training” in Hainault forest with him.


John running the last leg of the Southern London-Brighton relay in 1958

John joined the club in 1954 when his coach Ron Bowden moved to the club along with another Woodford stalwart, David Stearns. John was a talented middle distance runner in the mid 1950’s, achieving 1:52.5 for the 800m/880yds in his prime and represented the club in many of the trophy events held during this time.

In his later years he moved from track and field to representing the club in both road running and cross country. In due course he became a life member. He regretted that he never reached the final of the UK AAA championships as, after reaching the semi-final, he always seemed to find a visiting Australian or New Zealand athlete impeding his progress to the final. In one interval training session at Ashton he was asked to pace the New Zealand Olympic champion Peter Snell, by Snell’s coach Arthur Lydiard. They both walked off after the training session, never uttering any thanks to John for the help he had given.

After his major running days were over, he continued to support the club. He was involved in the building of the club house and maintained and ran the facility for many years along with his son David and supported by his wife Renee.  He was in the group of veterans that formed the Woodford “Evergreens”. John and Renee were energetic members in the social life of the club for many years and still came to the social evenings for the music and general knowledge quizzes and the annual whist drive. 

John will be remembered for his quick wit and dry humour. His knowledge and intellect were far above his formal education. His school in East London was bombed during World War II and he always blamed Hitler for not being able to complete his education. 

He will be greatly missed by his friends at the club and by his fellow training companions on Wednesday mornings.