Morpeth Harriers are sorry to report the death at 73 of Life Member and club stalwart Hudson Stoker after a lengthy period of illness.
Hudson – just plain Hud to his many friends in the club – joined Morpeth in 1986 at the same time as his lifetime companion George Patterson. Competing at a decent standard for the club, he very quickly became however one of those people upon whom all clubs come to depend, someone not frightened of responsibility or hard work, but rather prepared to put in the graft over a wide range of jobs to enable the club to operate effectively.
He took to announcing at meets easily (a little known fact about him is that he had, in fact, DJ’d when younger at Newcastle’s legendary Club a Go Go) and his voice came to be a natural, welcoming and expected part of the ambience at track meets and cross countries.
He announced at club meetings, at the legendary Morpeth-Newcastle road race, at the North Eastern Grand Prix at Monkton and Gateshead, at North East Harrier Leagues and, further afield, at major Northern and National XC Championships and Road Relays.
Calmness and organisation were attributes that came naturally to him, and he was rarely if ever deterred by the utterly wretched winter conditions of snow, rain and cold that sometimes prevailed. Track and field meetings at Morpeth saw him present from 8.30 in the morning, already putting out signs and helping with the practicalities, and then one of the last to leave after clearing up. He also had to master the various league results systems – no easy task – and was a key member of the club’s results teams for our own New Year’s Day and 10k promotions.
He was hugely instrumental in the club’s publicity efforts, putting together the old Runaround magazine with George for several years, and then setting up the club’s first website in 2001. Very much a labour of love, he continually updated and added to it, often with photographs which he himself somehow found time to take at the many meetings he attended. The photographic displays in the clubhouse, illustrating the club’s many achievements over the years, and those accompanying the annual presentation evening, were his work.
As our Membership Secretary he put together the club’s membership database, and as a Monday night regular at the clubhouse, he was there behind the desk, the first person prospective members and their parents would meet. Many Morpeth Harriers have commented on how welcoming, kind and thoughtful he was to them when they joined the club, and then how fantastically encouraging he was to all, irrespective of their abilities, always ready with a kind word and a smile.
Diagnosed with leukemia in 2011, Hud fought a long battle with ill-health but this rarely if ever deterred him from what he saw as his duty to the club, or indeed from him attending the many meetings, whether Track and Field or Cross-country, that he drove to with George throughout the year.
The love and respect in which he was long held are clear from the many tributes paid to him via the club’s social media, many reaching for the same words: gentle, a gentleman, kind, thoughtful, a great servant. He was part of the lifeblood of our club and he will be a big miss, not just to us but to the wider community of Northern Athletics. The club extends its sympathies to his family knowing that we have some big shoes to fill.
Perhaps the last words are best left to his longtime companion George Patterson: "I was very lucky to have Hudson as a friend for 52 years."