Tribute to Steyning's walking legend

A NEW street named after an Olympic gold medal winner from Steyning has been officially opened.

Thursday, 20th March 2008, 2:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 11:44 pm

Reads Walk, in Shooting Field, Steyning, was opened by relatives of race walker Norman Read, who grew up in the town.

Born in 1931, Mr Read, a member of Steyning Athletic Club, emigrated to New Zealand to start a new life in 1953.

The "Pommie-Kiwi" competed for New Zealand in the 1956 summer Olympics, in Melbourne, Australia, where he won the gold medal in the 50-kilometre walk '“ the fourth-ever Olympic gold for the country.

In his book A Steyning Connection, current Steyning Athletic Club president Ian Ivatt wrote of Mr Read: "In brief, he accomplished much that the rest of us would find impossible.

"He was never disqualified in a walking race, save for one, according to brother Brian, which was his last race, when he had an attack of cramp."

Mr Read died in 1994, aged 62, after collapsing following a bicycle race.

"Members of his family travelled from far and wide for the opening of the road named in his honour.

Son Richard, 38, came from London to attend the opening. He told the Herald: "I think he would be rather chuffed with this, to be honest, and quite humbled.

"He was charismatic bloke, a very straightforward person. He was passionate about whatever he believed in and was always striving to achieve his goals."

Richard cut the ribbon to officially open Reads Walk, a Saxon Weald development featuring 22 new homes '“ a mixture of one, two and three-bedroom homes for rental and shared ownership schemes.

He was joined by son Dominic Shah and Norman Read's brothers, Dennis and Brian, along with Saxon Weald chairman Robin Charter.

Richard, who works for a property management company, said: "It was a real honour. It was out of the blue when I got the call asking if I would like to do it."

Ian Ivatt's books, A Steyning Connection and The Race, the story of the Easter Monday walking races in Steyning and from where the picture of Norman Read is taken, are both available to buy from Mr Ivatt's office, in Steyning High Street.