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Mayor unveils plaque

Mayor and female remove a drape to unveil a plaque on a wall.

Former Olympic athlete Christina Boxer joined the Mayor of Farnham and invited guests at the unveiling of a plaque commemorating local athlete and coach Ron Stonehouse last week (26 June).

Mr Stonehouse trained Olympic runner Christina Boxer at Aldershot, Farnham and District Athletics Club, as well as numerous other local athletes, many to national and international level. Christina competed in three Olympics in the 1980s.

The plaque marking Ron Stonehouse’s life and achievements has been placed on the ‘famous names wall’, located on South Street near the council offices. The wall commemorates notable Farnham residents.

Councillor David Attfield, the outgoing Mayor of Farnham paid tribute to Mr Stonehouse’s contribution to local athletics: “Ron Stonehouse is truly deserving of this honour. He was an extraordinary man who made a great contribution to athletics – coaching and mentoring hundreds of club athletes both young and old who benefited from his amazing skills, wisdom and friendship.”

Joining the Mayor making tributes was Christina Boxer who brought along a photograph of Ron wearing her commonwealth gold medal, Phil Stamp who gave an emotional tribute of the impact Ron had on his own career and the friendship they shared. Brian Grieg, a founder member of Farnham Sports Council and its former Chairman, also commented on the immense contribution Ron made to athletics locally.

Mr Stonehouse’s wife, Shirley, joined the Mayor in unveiling the plaque. Ron passed away last year.

Born in Badshot Lea in 1928, Ron was an accomplished athlete in his own right during the 1950s, running a mile in 4 minutes 11 seconds. He began his athletics career with the then Farnham Athletics Club and was actively involved in its amalgamation in 1966 with Aldershot Athletics Club when it became Aldershot, Farnham and District Athletics Club. He soon entered a career in coaching and it was there that his greatest achievements lie. 

He spotted the potential of 14 year old Bernie Ford, coaching him to international level. Bernie twice won the national English cross-country title and finished third in the world competition in 1976. In the 1980s, Ron also trained Roger Hackney, Commonwealth silver medallist who competed in three Olympics.

Ron is remembered locally, however, for training many young athletes from Farnham, Aldershot and the surrounding area, both formally and informally. He continued to coach into his 70s and in 1981 was voted Farnham Sports Personality of the Year.

Professionally, Ron trained as an electrician and worked as a maintenance manager in factories and branches of local engineering company Martonair Limited.

The Farnham Wall is fully accessible to the public, displaying a growing collection of plaques remembering noteworthy Farnham residents and their achievements.

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