Stanley Vennard Obituary

31 January 2018

It is with deep sadness that Athletics Northern Ireland announces the death of one of its greatest all time distance runners, Stanley Vennard.

"When in 1963 I made my first tentative steps into competitive athletics and joined Duncan Nomads, one man stood head and shoulders, literally, above everyone else in the club. Stanley Vennard had won the Northern Ireland Junior Cross Country in 1960 ahead of Olympian Derek Graham and, in the six years after I joined, Stanley led the Nomads to two Senior Cross Country golds, two silver and two bronze, as well as taking the individual title in 1967. 

It is for his individual success and in particular as a marathon runner however, that Stanley will be best remembered in athletic circles. In 1960 he burst onto the marathon scene to win the Northern Ireland title in a new NI Record time of 2:26.11 (a time incidentally which nearly 60 years later would make him the fastest local finisher in the Belfast City Marathon). In 1966 he again won the local title in 2:30.13. This  not only gained him a place on the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games team which competed in Kingston, Jamaica but he was honoured by being named as Team Captain. In the searing heat in the Caribbean he finished a very creditable eighth. The following year he retained his NI title, winning by nine and a half minutes.

All of these performances were of course achieved in an era when athletes held down full time jobs and when the rewards were electric toasters and mantle piece clocks rather than financial gain. Stanley was renowned for the prodigious distances covered in training. A former police officer, he was the subject of several stories, perhaps apocryphal, of uniforms and weapons being stashed under hedges while a few extra miles were clocked up!

Stanley later transferred his skills to ‘weights and measures’ and then attended Stranmillis College as a Mature Student, and entered the teaching profession. He completed his teaching career as headmaster of Moira Primary School. A man of many talents, Stanley also made a name for himself as an accomplished artist."

Athletics Northern Ireland would wish to pass on its sincere condolences to his widow Norma, and daughters Claire and Caron. 

John T Glover, Vice President ANI