'Inspiring a generation'. That was Jan all over - as a much-loved school teacher, dedicated Beaver Leader, hockey referee, and a top level athletics official, Jan inspired so many!
After a stubborn battle with cancer Jan Lishman passed away peacefully with her family surrounding her.
Jan's highlight of her athletics officiating was being Clerk of the Course at the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. But she could be found volunteering at all levels of the sport, including her work with UK Deaf Athletics, being instrumental in the first fully inclusive Greater Manchester and Cheshire County Championships, plus she was an England Athletics Regional Councillor. Jan won the England Athletics Services to Officiating in the North West in 2013.
Supporting officials and athletes on their journey up from grass roots.
Catherine McGrath, a Level 4 field judge and also a starter remembered,
"Jan said she wouldn’t hang her clipboard up until I made Level 4 - and she didn’t. I will miss her humour and pearls of wisdom."
There were grateful memories from many of her fellow officials. Lis Henderson reflected that Jan was always a great support to her in athletics and she learnt a lot from her over the years. Emily Craven spoke of how Jan set her off on her athletics journey and is incredibly grateful for all she taught everyone. Mike Oakley said Jan supported his officiating at all levels. And Alison Jordan - a track official - says Jan taught her how to level a sandpit properly.
"Jan really helped me as an official on numerous occasions, and wrote one of my reports when I was looking for upgrading to Level 4. She was a very kind lady and a superb official."John Stansfield
Sharing experiences and knowledge as Clerk of the Course
As well as being a National Level Field Judge, Jan spent much of her time in the Technical Team, setting up before meetings and helping them run smoothly from a technical point of view, preparing event sites, measuring implements and problem solving.
Alan Morris recalls he spent many enjoyable days with Jan in the Technical Team. JP Lamarque said that Jan taught him loads as Clerk of the Course, and was full of athletics experience. Ken Burkett worked alongside Jan in 2012 in the Technical Team and at Birmingham 2017 as a volunteer:
"She taught me so much I was able to take in to my own officiating. I loved working with her and she showed such kindness and trust with others."
Caroline Cook added: "I proudly worked with Jan as clerk of the course on a few occasions. We had far too many laughs, but the job was always done. She also introduced me to my first McDonald's breakfast at BUCS! In return I stood over her at a very busy World Athletics until she'd eaten something!"
Advice, guidance and friendship
Her officiating colleagues have responded to the sad news with many adjectives to describe Jan:
A wonderful and kind person with a terrific sense of humour...such a knowledgeable and clever human being who will be missed by so many people...I will always remember her advice and guidance and be forever grateful. ..a dear athletics friend with whom I shared many experiences... an amazing lady, fantastic official and great mentor...an amazing person, mentor and friend...always had a smile and bit of chat when I saw her.
International Starter Alan Bell noted:
"Jan was a gem who could be feisty and determined but above all she had a heart of gold and was always willing to help and support others in sport and her community."
Beyond officiating but still heavily involved in athletics, Jan is fondly remembered by Lisa Uren organising everyone at UK Women’s League matches. Gaye Clarke, an official, masters athlete (which Jan also strongly supported) and Civil Service Athletics Association committee member said:
"Jan was an amazing, intelligent and passionate woman. Civil Service Athletics Association really valued her expertise and enthusiasm in keeping our matches afloat and us all in check!"
And a parent reported she helped her son with his athletics getting him to county standard, one of many athletes who benefited from her knowledge and kindness.
Olympic javelin thrower Shelley Dowling-Holroyd recalled: "I’ll never forget the time she moved a Javelin competition to the other end because I said the wind was better - she was definitely stubborn but she would always listen to the athletes. Getting involved in the Para Athletics side was a huge bonus too because I could always count on her."
Long-time officiating colleague Margaret Nelson said, "Jan will be remembered fondly by all of us officials who had the pleasure of working with her over many years."
Outside athletics she was a popular and well-loved Beaver Scout leader "Toad", and certainly a favourite French teacher for many. One former student Brendan Matthew said she was one of the people that inspired him to become a teacher!
Fellow official Mike Oakley sums up all the comments: "The sport has lost a superstar."
She leaves behind a fantastic legacy, and has inspired a generation of officials, athletes, scouts, and students. Thank you Jan.