England Athletics is sad to hear of the death of Peter Lee, our National Volunteer Award winner for Official of the Year in 2010. Peter had officiated at the highest level for many years and was also a long-serving County Officials' Secretary for Hertfordshire, County Schools' Honorary Secretary, and an officiating tutor. He was also an active member and Chairman of the SEAOA (the South of England Officials' Association).
A number of Herts officials began about the same time as Peter in the early 1990s, under the guidance of the late Mike Parmiter (who won the national award the year after Peter). Through both Peter and Mike's support and guidance, many officials from the county reached top levels of officiating and Peter is one of the reasons that Herts officials are held in such high esteem nationally.
Nick and Sally Higman, now living in the South West reminisced:
"We first met Peter when our daughter was competing in the Herts County Championships in the high jump against his daughter. We spent many happy days officiating alongside him during our time in Hertfordshire and it was Peter who, in 2003, took over the County Officials' Secretary role from Sally."
Peter told Athletics Weekly in an interview that even when his daughters no longer competed, he'd got the officiating bug and couldn't stop!
Peter was also an officiating course tutor for many years, helping teach new officials the art of becoming a Field Official and supporting them on their journey, including writing many of the pre-requisite competition performance reports needed for officials to progress.
Tony Tyndale was one of the many Peter got onto the officiating ladder:
"He gave so much to so many over so many years. He helped me get started and had a wonderful sense of humour."
Nicola Evans recalls a UKA-supported trip to the European Para Championships that Peter and herself, plus a number of other officials attended to gain further experience of disability athletics prior to the Paralympics the following year.
"Peter drove five of us all the way to the Netherlands - that's what he was like – always willing to go that extra mile, either in the car or with his expertise! He also took a real interest in his colleagues; he always asked after my partner (not an official) – something not many would do."
Peter was a very efficient County Officials' Secretary, producing regular informative newsletters to Herts officials to accompany the availability sheet.
He quickly got to grips with the new UKA portal system in 2009 and the ensuing major changes to the officiating education structure. He could quickly send messages and updates to the officials in the county, but he was always ready to chat at an event or conference and be a source of advice and encouragement to officials of all levels of experience.
After seeing a need for more EDM machines at sub-national event level while organising training through the SEAOA Peter also set up Precision Athletics with officiating colleagues Tony Sach and Bob Hammond, with the aim of providing EDM equipment for measuring long throws in those early days, and so that local officials could become more conversant with the technology before they encountered it at major meetings. He also became a Level 3 EDM tutor.
He helped to host a number of EDM Play Days with Tony and Bob – a free opportunity for officials to familiarise themselves with the EDM without the pressures of competition. He also contributed an article on its use in our officiating magazine. It made a huge difference in the East of England and EDM machines became the norm very quickly at Club, County and SEAA competitions.
Peter was an excellent role model for officials - especially in the technical room where he was always happy to share hints and tips from his own experiences.
Peter told AW during an interview,
"I have always tried to help other officials who are perhaps newer than me to gain experience and confidence and to answer any questions they may have."
This attitude has resulted in many officials across the country to be indebted to him for his support of their officiating.
"He always gave his time to help other officials, especially setting up."Peter Fitzpatrick
He often ran a workshop at the annual Southern Officials' conference to help familiarise officials with technology and other useful aids to make volunteering in the Technical Room easier and more efficient.
"Peter taught me a lot of useful tricks of the trade."Marion Osborn
Although regularly seen at local grassroots events and officiating for his club Stevenage and North Herts AC, Peter officiated at many National events and was Team Leader for the Triple Jump, Heptathlon and Decathlon at the London Olympics, and also officiated at the Paralympics as Leader for a number of events.
Sally Higman has great memories of Peter and her raking in the Men’s Triple Jump at the World Championships in 2017 in London. Both rakers were aged over 70 and with Chris Cohen exhorting “faster, faster” “now slow it down” in their earpieces to satisfy the television timings!
Peter will be sorely missed by many of his colleagues both in his technical role and his officiating, for his common sense and practical application to everything.
Herts official Sue Smith said:
"One of the best in Hertfordshire. I will miss my friend and my COfSec."
Fellow COfSec in the East region, Gaye Clarke and colleague Malcolm Rogers summarised what many of Peter's officiating colleagues have said:
"Athletics has lost another dedicated, experienced official and all round nice guy."Gaye Clarke
"Peter was a real gentleman, and his death is a great loss to athletics world."Malcolm Rogers
A few days after the 2010 National Volunteer Awards ceremony Peter told England Athletics, “Now I've got over the shock would you tell those who proposed me that I am very honoured and hope I can live up to the citation.”
And he certainly did.
Our condolences go to his wife Jan, daughters Karen and Hazel, and all the family.
The funeral will take place at Central Methodist Church, 109 Pixmore Way, Letchworth, SG6 2TR and all are welcome. No formal attire required. For those who wish to watch live streaming of the funeral on Wednesday 10 January, click for online link (zoom) from 1.15pm.
To join manually: ID: 834 7327 4210 Passcode: 275371
There will be refreshments after the service at The Broadway Hotel and Peter's wife would very much like people to come to engage in banter.
Photos by Mark Shearman (competitions and Hall of Fame), Gary Mitchell and Nicola Evans