Stuart Horsewood is a member of the England Athletics South East Regional Council. As a schoolboy, he got fit delivering newspapers and enjoyed cross country before going onto complete his first ‘Ultra’ aged 16. His job in finance took him all over the world and he has run marathons and beyond on all seven continents and the North Pole - one of only about 150 people in the world to hold this accolade (more on the journey to this achievement in an upcoming article!).
We asked Stuart about his life in athletics and how that has helped him in this crucial role within a regional council, helping to positively shape the future of athletics and running across his community and beyond.
Q: How did you get involved with your Regional Council?
A: I met England Athletics CEO Chris Jones when he came to visit my club, Winchester and District AC. We had a long chat and he suggested why didn't I join the Regional Council? I've taken on the role within the South East Regional Council to be the County Officials’ Secretary Co-ordinator so I talked to various County Officials’ Secretaries (COfSecs are a vital like between officials in their county, meeting organisers, and England Athletics) to see if we can help with any problems or anything that I can then take back to England Athletics. You’ve now got Marc Ritchie as Officials’ Development Manager at England Athletics and I was talking to him recently so I can see that not only am I helping the COfSecs organise, but also bringing more officiating experience into England Athletics to try and get the better approach for officials.
Q: What opportunities has being involved in a Regional Council given you?
A: One thing is the Volunteer Awards. Each region takes on another’s nominations deciding who the winners are in different categories. I went around the various clubs in my area to present the awards face-to-face. I enjoyed getting involved with the clubs and letting them know I was there if they've got anything they want to raise. It’s an opportunity to feed in through the right channels, to talk to and to influence, and to know which doors to knock on. I think that's what the councils are there to do - that two-way communication, the conduit between the governing body and our people that experience the sport.
Q: How have your experiences abroad and running influenced you?
A: One time in India we had Linford Christie and Steve Ovett there although they weren't marathon runners. But they said how the sport helped them in their lives and how they helped others. So, it's what I can put back into the sport. Having 62 years of running - and how people around the sport have helped me whether officiating, coaching, guiding, or sponsoring - it's a way of giving back what was given to me.
Q: How would you describe your involvement in athletics today?
A: I'm a timekeeper and also the Race Director for the Hampshire track and field championships - I’m the one who does all the organisation; we have about a thousand athletes over a two-day period. Now we also have to make sure there is photofinish, and this is also what my timekeeping role is now involving because they're moving away from the manual approach to the photofinish. I'm the secretary for Winchester and District AC as well - I was voted in while I was running at the North Pole, so I had no chance to say no!
Q: What would you say to somebody who was considering putting themselves forward for a local Regional Council role, but needed a little encouragement?
A: It’s absolutely necessary to have people with different experiences, from different backgrounds on the regional council. I’m an official, and we've got people that are coaches, we've got people that talk from event management perspective, other athletes as well as those involved in clubs and representing parents’ perspective so to get a whole range of views. It doesn't take a lot of time out of your week; it does give you that insight to go back into your own specific area of focus. It’s what would you like to get out of it, but it's also what you can then put back in; you can go back to your club or you can be a mouthpiece for other parents.