St Bede’s AC – the early years, 1981-1989 – by Paul Turner

Being a brief history of, and personal tribute to, the club during the early years. Any errors or omissions are unintentional.


At the start of the 1981 football season certain older members of St Bede’s (RC Grammar School, Heaton) Old Boys Football Club were no longer guaranteed a game every week. Rather than not be involved in a sport they decided to join the running boom of the early 1980s. They started running on Saturday afternoons and would then meet socially at The Lithuanian Club in Manningham, after the football matches had been completed, and would still feel part of the club.

In October 1981 John McDonough and Paul Turner began training for the first Bradford Marathon in May 1982. Subsequently, two other people who were playing football regularly became keen to take part: Graham Eastell and Chris O’Brien. The first time the group ran as a team was at the Wetherby Half-Marathon on 3 May 1982. Paul Turner, John McDonough, David Narey and Chris O’Brien won the prize for first team.

Foundation and first AGM:

St Bede’s Athletic Club was officially founded on 17 August 1982 when the club became affiliated to the English AAA (Amateur Athletic Association).

The Old Boys Football Club kindly gave the Athletic Club a start-up loan of £50 which was to be paid back in one year, but it never foreclosed on this debt. Subs at that time were £2 per year.

The club’s first AGM took place on 8 June 1983 at the Lithuanian Club in Manningham. Present at this meeting were John McDonough, Paul Turner, David Lightowler, Dick Zurek, Paul Broome, Chris O’Brien, Pauline Turner, Graham Eastell, David Narey, Tony Stockdale, Alan Boland and Dick Bentley. The elected officers were David Lightowler (President), Paul Broome (Chairman), Pauline Turner (Secretary), Paul Turner (Treasurer) and Graham Eastell (Club Captain).

Graham Eastell and Alan Boland proved to be key members of this club. Graham introduced Alan to the club and over the years they have given exceptional support, both in their athletic ability and the many tasks they have fulfilled for the club.

Period from 1983 to 1985:

In the early years the club flourished and membership grew steadily. Other runners in the period include Peter Bairstow, Dick Zurek, Paul Broome, Dave Narey, Barry Conroy, Bill Spence and Tony Stockdale. Paul Turner met Kevin and Dennis Flaherty at the Bradford to Leeds Mileta 10-miler in 1983 and they both joined the club on 31 August 1983. Peter Bairstow was the first club runner to break three hours in the marathon at Rotherham in 1983. Steve Hornby joined the club in 1984 and proved a good half-marathon and 10k runner, completing half-marathons in about 70 minutes.

In 1984 the first female runner, Lesley Baber, joined the club. She took her athletics seriously and passed her level-one coaching exams.

The 1985 season was the first where the club affiliated to the Yorkshire Cross-Country Association. St Bede’s competed in the Halifax League, the Bradford League and also the West Yorkshire Cross-Country League. The cross-country season culminated in the National Cross-Country Championships at Milton Keynes, where Steve Hornby, Kevin Flaherty and Paul Turner competed.

On 11 January 1985 the club held its inaugural annual club dinner, at The Rock and Heifer in Thornton. Dennis Flaherty was presented the prize as ‘Clubman of the Year’, and Steve Hornby ‘Most Improved Athlete’.

On 17 July 1985 St Bede’s organised an Inter-Club 10k road race with Keighley Road Runners, using Keighley’s course at Haworth. St Bede’s were represented by Alan Boland, Steve Hornby, P. Thackray, Peter Bairstow, R. Murgatroyd, Paul Turner, D. Brown, Tony Stockdale, Dennis Bather, A. Wallbank and Billy Whittingham. This became an annual fixture.

The highlight of the social season was the club trip to the Paris 20k road race on 13 October 1985, organised by Kevin Flaherty. The club also organised a run and picnic in the Dales at Burnsall.

Alan Boland was Club Captain in 1985 and Graham Eastell Cross-Country Captain.

Period from 1986 to 1987:

The club was continuing to prosper, though concern was expressed about the lack of female members. Public liability insurance was an issue that was being discussed, but was resolved when the AAA confirmed that they provided automatic cover up to £1m for affiliated clubs.

The annual road-race in 1986 with Keighley RR took place at St Bede’s on 25 June 1986. St Bede’s were victorious, 418 points to 407. Since those early days Keighley (after merging with the Craven fell running club) have progressed to become a leading Yorkshire club.

During the autumn of 1986 the club was approached by the secretary of Ilkley Harriers about a possible inter-club competition among the smaller clubs in the area: Ilkley Harriers, Horsforth Harriers, Queensbury, Keighley RR and St Bede’s.

The inter-club race with Keighley drew out 23 runners from St Bede’s, while 18 runners in winter club races is indicative of the competitive strength at this time. Several runners continued to improve, notably Graham Eastell, Steve Hornby, Michael Hersi and Martin Firth. At this time, another woman joined the club (at last), Louise Dunn.

In the 1987 season, Keighley won the annual inter-club race on 22 July, but St Bede’s had more runners out than Keighley, on the ‘mob-match’ system.

On 2 September 1987 St Bede’s held a ‘round-the-school relay’ with Baildon Runners, and there was a return fixture at Roberts Park, Saltaire. For the first time, on 13 December 1987 the club entered the Calderdale Way fell relay, an excellent event over six legs with runners competing in pairs.

At this point two brothers had recently joined the club. Dave Verity had become a member in 1986. He was a good club-runner and Paul Turner coached him for the London Marathon where he comfortably bettered three hours. Dave was a staunch club member, but arguably his best deed was to introduce his brother, Jack, a notable county athlete, who over the ensuing years proved a staunch club member, partly by his athletic example but also the quiet and reliable way he helped in the administration of the club.

After joining club in March 1987 Jack Verity set club records at 10 miles (54:32 at Burnsall), half marathon (69.21 at York) and marathon (2:47:38 at London).  Alan Boland went even better at London setting a club V40 record of 2:44:46 which still stands over 30 years later.

On the cross-country scene, Jack Verity strengthened the club for the West Yorkshire CC league, but more runners were required to be competitive. It is worth mentioning that nine boys from St Bede’s Grammar School turned out in the last fixture of the WYCC season at Honley (near Holmfirth).

Chris Upton won the Club Handicap and Alan Boland was voted ‘Clubman of the Year’ for 1987.

In 1987 a future club stalwart, Roy Wilkes, organised the first Thackley Grange and Beckfield 7m race (later to become the Beckfield 10K which was organised until 1994).

Period from 1988 to 1989:

At this period, the club had runners who were performing well on the road or the country included Jack Verity, Steve Hornby, Graham Eastell and Martin Firth.

For the first time in the club’s history, the club organised a training camp, at Torpenhow in the northern Lakes, near Keswick. Those taking part were Jack Firth, Martin Firth, Kevin Flaherty, Graham Eastell, Alan Boland and Paul Turner.

Those who attended the 1988 AGM were Paul Turner, Jack Verity, Dave Verity, Mike Moss, Chris Upton, Billy Whittingham, Mick Moriarty, Lesley Baber, Alan Boland, Graham Eastell, Louise Dunn, Wendy Flaherty, Helen Flaherty, Dennis Bather, Tony Priestley, Martin Firth, Tom Keating, Alan Wood and Jack Firth.

At this point, six years into the club’s life, St Bede’s welcomed a member who influenced the club probably more than any other during its later years, namely Mike Moss. Mike started running with the club in 1988. During one evening training run he let it be known that he was interested in becoming club secretary, which proved to be a great appointment. Mike took over this role at the AGM in January 1989, since when he has proved to be a fantastic servant to St Bede’s.

Into the 90s:

Since that point many more have become involved with the club and took the club strongly forward in the 90s. Paul Turner notes the following with affection: Doris and Keith Pratchett, Roy and Jackie Wilks, Neil and Anne Lloyd, Mick Long, Mick Jones, Dave Armstrong, Carole Raistrick, Rita Jordan, Mike Mahoney, Colin Huntley, Martin and Helen Love, Hilary Waite and, from the early years, Tony and Pat Priestley. Not only these, but the club pays tribute to the unstinting contributions of Pauline Turner, Pat Boland, Michelle Eastell and others who have helped with catering, marshalling and various other duties after races and social events.


The club took part in the first running of the Leeds Country Way relay a race of 48 miles over 6 stages.  Jack Verity and Pete Pyrah got the club off to a flying start bringing the club home in the lead at the end of the 1st leg sending Dave Verity and John Pinder off on leg 2 like scared rabbits!


Results from 1992 Dentdale 14


The club organised a trip to the Malta marathon/half marathon at which Mike Moss broke the 3 hour barrier (2:57:28).

Club magazine from 1993
Club magazine from March 1993

Eyeballs out May 1993

Eyeballs out Oct. 1993

Eyeballs out Dec. 1993

Jack Verity set club V35 records for the half marathon (71:02) at the Yorkie half marathon in York and the marathon (2:35:00) at London.

Club trip to Dentdale 14 1993

Photo of the St. Bede’s club trip to the Dentdale 14 in 1993.

From the left Harry McGill, Keith Pratchett, Frank Beecroft, Dave Verity, Jack Verity, Mick Jones, Mick Chambers, Dave Armstrong, Mike Moss.
Front from the left Graham Eastell, Ian Howdin, Helen Love, Anne Lloyd, Terry Walton, Chris Upton.


1994 Grand Prix race organised at St. Bede’s school, Heaton

Eyeballs out summer 1994


Eyeballs out Feb. 1995

Eyeballs out summer 1995


Eyeballs out Mar. 1996

Eyeballs out Dec. 1996

Photo of the St. Bede’s team at the 1996 Yorkshire cross-country championships with the championship trophy ‘borrowed’ from Bingley Harriers by Corporal Jones.
From the back LtoR Jack Verity,Pete Hughes,Steve Wilby,Mike Moss,Pete Pyrah.
Front LtoR Mick Jones,James Callaghan,and the late John Carr.


Article that appeared in the Bradford Star free paper – St. Bede’s team of the week. Left to right: Colin Huntley, Mick Brearley, Dave Wilson, Jackie Wilks, Ian Dawson, Joanne Safranouskas, Will Kerr, Martin Firth, Martin Love Mick Mahoney and Mick ‘Corporal’ Jones.

A new home

In the early 2000’s (exact date not noted – probably 2001) the club switched its headquarters from the St. Bede’s school in Heaton to the Esholt Sports club. Unfortunately with this move we lost 2 of our dedicated members Jack and Martin Firth who decided to switch their membership to Queensbury running club.

Bradford Millennium Way relay

To celebrate the Millennium, the Bradford Countryside service devised a new waymarked circular route of 48 miles to be known as the Bradford Millennium Way.  It was suggested that St. Bede’s A.C. should organise a multi-stage relay around the route in similar fashion to the popular Calderdale Way relay.

A committee was formed (Colin Huntley, Roy Wilkes, Alan Boland, Mick Jones, Graham Eastell, Jack Verity and Mike Moss) and the race format (5 stages) and handover points identified and plans put in place to hold the first running of the event from Beckfoot Lane, Bingley with the race headquarters at Bradford & Bingley on 30th June 2002.

The first race saw 20 teams taking part mostly local clubs but also 2 teams from Blackburn Road Runners and was won by Wakefield Harriers with the St. Bede’s team finishing second.

2004 saw the inclusion of a team of Belgian runners from Turnhout (through Simon Forde’s connections in Belgium) and 25 teams taking part.

2006 saw the numbers of teams taking part raised to 40 with 4 teams coming over from Holland and Belgium and a big effort from the committee in hosting and entertaining 42 visitors for the weekend.

The Airedale Athletics Partnership

The Idea of a Partnership between Athletics and Endurance Sports Clubs – During 2006, St Bede’s AC had undergone a strategic review and had concluded that the minimum viability for a successful club, which could sustain teams in all athletics disciplines, would require over 200 members. From a base of 60 members in 2005 it appeared unlikely that such a number could be achieved within the required timescale. The club expected a boom in interest in running associated with the 2012 Olympics, but it would be unlikely to be able to benefit fully under its own efforts alone. Having studied a number of collaborative models available abroad (in northern Europe and in the Commonwealth) St Bede’s agreed a strategy of seeking a partnership with athletics and other endurance sports clubs in the vicinity. The concept of a partnership with clubs retaining their individual identity, but maximising collaborative possibilities, was intended to get away from a grand merger of all local clubs into a putative City of Bradford AC, an idea that had been mooted previously, but had never taken root.

At the same time, Bradford Airedale AC had hit a low point, with a minimum of athletes and volunteers, and was considering closing down at its AGM in September 2006. This was averted by the prospect of a partnership with other clubs, whereby Bradford Airedale would have a clear role promoting track-and-field athletics from its Horsfall home, developing youth teams, and catering for the sport in south Bradford.

Agreement and Constitution, March 2007, between Founding Partners – The two clubs, Bradford Airedale and St Bede’s, worked together to produce a partnership agreement and constitution. The outline was presented to other clubs in the Bradford area. At this stage, Eccleshill Road Runners expressed a possible interest, whereas Bingley and Ilkley Harriers both considered that the proposal had little benefit to them, while Idle AC considered the collaborative concept fundamentally flawed.

A Founding Agreement and Constitution was agreed between Bradford Airedale and St Bede’s and signed on 1 March 2007 by Chris Hainsworth (chairman of BAAC) and Mike Moss (secretary of St Bede’s).

The Partnership took the formal name of the Airedale Athletics Partnership.

Eccleshill Road Runners Join the Partnership – At their AGM on 6 September 2007, Eccleshill Road Runners, agreed to become the first new partner and signed the partnership agreement on 1 December 2007.

Since that date, Skyrac, Baildon Runners and Queensbury have joined the partnership and composite teams have competed in a number of relays including the Northern 6 stage road relays and finished 2nd and 3rd in the 2010 and 2011 Leeds Country Way relay.


Club membership card 2002


Secretarys report from 2004 AGM


In August the club arranged a trip to Turnhout in Belgium to take part in the 16km trail race organised by our twin club AVOS

Natuurloop 16k results

Secretarys report from 2005 AGM


In 2007 the club organised a special dinner to celebrate the silver jubilee of the club and invited international athlete Peter Elliott as guest speaker. Several former members were also present at the dinner.

Peter Elliott and Paul Turner
Peter Elliott and founder member Paul Turner.
Silver Jubilee dinner booklet

Club of the year

The club received the Yorkshire & Humberside region off track club of the year award for its efforts in setting up the Airedale Athletics partnership.


At the 2008 AGM Jack Verity stepped down as club captain and was replaced by Will Kerr.


The club joined the Peco cross-country league with the first race at Golden Acre park on 8th November.


Grand Canyon Traverse

In 2010 7 members of the club (and 3 wives as support) took on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to fly out to Arizona and take on the 23 mile crossing of the Grand Canyon from rim-to-rim including 8000ft of climbing.  With a stop over in Las Vegas and American road trip to acclimatise before the big challenge.

January 2011 – A new beginning

At the AGM of St. Bede’s A.C. in November 2010 it was agreed to rename the club, after a democratic vote it was agreed that the new name would be Saltaire Striders from the 1st January 2011. The reasons behind this were that it was felt by some that the name St. Bede’s might evoke religious connotations and put some people off joining and as we had moved away from our base at St. Bede’s school in Heaton many years ago we no longer had any connections with the school. It was also felt that a new name linked to a location might attract new members looking for a running club by area.

In February 2011 14 members attended a Run in England leaders training course with a view to starting up new training sessions to try and attract new members.

In March 2011 the mens team of Saltaire Striders won the Peco League 1 title and were promoted to the Premier league for the 2011/2012 season.

In April 2011 new training sessions were launched on Monday evenings from outside the Old Tramshed at Saltaire roundabout, on Thursday evenings from Saltaire sports complex at the bottom of Victoria Road and on Saturday mornings from the park gates at Northcliffe Park.


In March 2012 the ladies team were promoted to the Premier league of the Peco league for the 2012/2013 season.

In 2012 the club membership reached the impressive figure of over 100 paid up members and training sessions went from strength to strength. Tuesday night sessions transferred from Esholt to Nuffield starting in October. Simon Pass a relative newcomer won his first open race at the Kirstall Abbey trail race and went on to win the first of the 2012/13 seasons Peco league races.

In July 2014, 2 new life members were made as recognition for their services to the club, Mike Moss and Jack Verity were presented with glass tankards at the annual Burnsall run to mark the occasion.

In October 2014 the club membership passed the 150 member milestone. Sarah Bruckshaw took over from Paul Watts as Honorary Treasurer and Rachel Parker took over from Barney Lerner as membership secretary.

At the AGM in December 2014, John Tinker stood down as club secretary and was replaced by Jeremy Wright. Dairine Nethercott took over from Graham Eastell as Social secretary.

Vets V35 team win Yorkshire Vets relay (Will Kerr, Martin Fillingham, Ash Burton, Tim Bellwood)

Chester Marathon Martin Fillingham 2:58:13

At the club dinner and awards evening in February 2015 Carol Raistrick was made a life member of the club for her services to the club having been membership secretary for many years and also involved with helping the social committee.

On March 16th 2015 Matt Nowell broke the long standing club record for 5k with a time of 16:07 at the Podium 5k.

On March 29th both the ladies and mens teams were team winners at the Liverpool half marathon.

At the 2nd John Carr 5k on 13th May Pete Hopson further reduced the club record for 5k to 15:57

In August the club membership number has reached 185. A club trip is organised to the Reykavik Marathon and half marathon.

At the end of the summer the move back to Nuffield saw the club sever its connections with the Esholt Sports club – a new venue must now be found for the John Carr 5 series for 2016.

London Marathon Marcin Soszka 2:41:11
Isle of Man Marathon 1st Marcin Soszka 2:48:18
Chester Marathon Martin Fillingham 2:56:15

At the AGM Sarah Bruckshaw stepped down as treasurer and was replace by Richard Stone.

The John Carr 5k series was organised from the Yorkshire Water estate starting outside the electronic gates at the Apperley Bridge end.

Mick Jones was made an honorary member of the club for his services to the club over many years including cross-country captain in the 1990s and his contribution to getting the original beginners group set up at Greens (Nuffield).

At the AGM Louise Bash was elected as ladies captain taking over from Jen Willingham and Helen Brant was elected as ladies vets captain.


At the AGM Alun Griffiths was elected as the new club secretary taking over from Jeremy Wright and Ewan Gibb was elected as social secretary taking over from Dairine Nethercott.

The John Carr 5k series was organised for the last time as a 5k series using Esholt Hall as the headquarters.

Martin Fillingham and Stuart Dunbar represent England Masters at the Chester marathon.

Due to being unable to gain Yorkshire Waters permission to use the Esholt estate and being unable to identify an alternative venue, sadly the John Carr 5k series did not take place this year and are unlikely to happen in the future as a 5k series. However, plans are in place for a trail race series in 2019 based on the Titus Salt school.

65 members finish in Epilepsy Action Bradford 10k (plus marshalls out on course)

Arthur James Shakerr
1st Will Kerr
2nd Martin Fillingham

Solstice Saunter
1st Will Kerr
2nd Martin Fillingham
3rd Steve Fowler
4th Stuart Dunbar

Neolithic marathon – 1st Marcin Soszka 3:06:16
Copenhagen marathon – Hannah Oldroyd 2:45:32
Even Splits 5k Hannah Oldroyd 17:21
Night of 10k PBs – Hannah Oldroyd 35:42
London Marathon – Hannah Oldroyd 2:46:27 (2nd lady in open race)
Will Kerr 2:48:14
Martin Fillingham 2:51:07
Marcin Soszka 2:59:27

National 6/12 stage road relays
Ladies 34th
Men 58th

Fleetwood 10k – 1st Tim Baldwin 35:17
Manchester marathon – Marcin Soszka 2:57:32
Warsaw narathon – Marcin Soszka 2:38:33

Yorkshire Marathon – Tim Baldwin 2:46:54
Chester Marathon – Martin Fillingham 2:49:51, Stuart Dunbar 2:55:13 both representing England Masters

7 members sub 3 hours for marathon (including 1 lady)

Northern 6/12 stage road relays – Birkenhead
Ladies 25th
Men 32nd


In 2019 we lost 3 members/former members in Anne Upton, Keith Abson and Roy Wilkes.

A number of new club records were set throughout the year

F45 1 mile Louise Nash 6:35
F45 M Louise Nash 3:44:29
F50 5k Louise Nash 22:25
F50 10k Louise Nash 46:02
F50 10m Janet Bower 78:32
F60 HM Heelen Love 1:50:42

Open 10k Tim Baldwin 31:33
V35 M Marcin Soszka 2:32:30
V45 5k Martin Fillingham 16:48
V45 10k Martin Fillingham 34:21
V45 HM Martin Fillingham 79:46
V45 M Martin Fillingham 2:48:11
V50 1M Stewart Spink 5:44
V50 5k Andy Brown 17:21
V50 HM Andy Brown 81:11
V55 1M Stuart Dunbar 5:36
V60 1M Tim Spencer 5:53
V60 M Gary Western 3:49:58

5 sub 3 hour marathons were recorded by striders including a new club record 2:34:14 at Boston for Marcin Soszka which he then improved to 2:32:30 in Berlin and first time sub 3 hours for Stewart Spink and Paul Parkins.

The club performed well at various relays, the highlight being 3rd at the Leeds Country Way

Northern 12 stage 32nd
Northern 6 stage – Ladies 40th
20th Calderdale Way
3rd Leeds Country Way
79th British Fell relays

A good number of members turned to ultra running including Ali Nash, Matt Richardson, Rob Henderson, Ian Russell, Claire Thaper, Ewan Gibb, Martin Fillingham, Tim Forster, Shane Corcoran, Loris Dell’Amico, Louise Dell’Amico, Bernie Bowden and Igs Robun

On the fells Matt Richardson starred with highlights being 6th at Wadsworth Trog, 10th Lakes in a Day, 7th Scafell Pike and 22nd Ben Nevis.

At the AGM Will Kerr stood down as club captain after more than 10 years in the role and was nominated as an honorary member of the club. Stuart Dunbar took his place as mens club captain.


The year of the covid 19 pandemic – from March onwards many races were cancelled.

Highlights of the year were Tim Baldwin’s new club record at 5k (15:15) and a new lap record (8:02) for the Esholt relay course, he also ran the 2nd fastest ever half marathon by a strider (70:10).

Lee Casson, a new member, quickly propelled himself up the club rankings improving his 10k by over 8 minutes to 34:37.

Matt Richardson became the first strider to complete a Bob Graham round (74 miles, 42 lakeland peaks, 28,000+ ft of climbing) and got inside the allowed 24 hours. Only 6 days previously he finished 7th (3:55) in the Yorkshireman off-road marathon.

Will Kerr finished 4th in his first Ultra the 33m Punk Panther short circuit.

At the virtual (Zoom) AGM in November Mike Moss stepped down as club chairperson after more than 30 years service on the committee to be replaced by Rachel Parker and Craig Elliott became the chair of coaches taking over from Jack Verity.

Club trips abroad

Benidorm Half Marathon

Malta Marathon 1993

Belgium years

In 2004, after the visit by the AVOS club to the Bradford Millennium Way relay, a twinning arrangement was put in place for a few years which saw a number of members visiting the Turnhout area to take part in events organised by AVOS including the 10 mile trail race.

Grand Canyon Traverse

In 2010 7 members of the club (and 3 wives as support) took on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to fly out to Arizona and take on the 23 mile crossing of the Grand Canyon from rim-to-rim including 8000ft of climbing.  With a stop over in Las Vegas and American road trip to acclimatise before the big challenge.

2014 Barcelona Half Marathon

Gareth Ward 1:20:24
Jeremy Wright 1:34:35
Greg Collett 1:40:37
Helen Love 1:44 13
Stewart Spink 1:46:15
Barney Lerner 1:49:25
Dairine Nethercott 1:57:42

Iceland Marathon/Half Marathon/10k

In 2015 a number of members flew out to Reykjavik to take part in the Marathon/half marathon and 10k and a social weekend.

Cork Marathon 2016

Amsterdam marathon 2016

Budapest 10k/30k/marathon 2017

Palma marathon/half marathon 10k 2018

Reims 10k/HM/Marathon 2019