Born into the Sport!

November 3, 2022

Ask those who have been involved in Sussex Athletics for a while to name someone that has always been there, and most will think of the same person.

They will think of someone who has spent more than eight decades working tirelessly for the sport.

Whether it was organising events, sitting on committees or, as most of us remember – capturing epic moments with his camera both on the track in the summer and at the cross country in the winter.

Reg Hook has always been there. When asked why, there is one simple answer. He was born into the sport.

From his first breath in June 1934, athletics ran deep in his blood, and it was his destiny to be involved.

His father, John (Jack) Henry Hook, was a “founding father” of Sussex County Athletics in 1924, at which point he was already treasurer of the Brighton & Hove County Harriers (now Brighton & Hove AC).

As a young child, Reg was taken, sometimes in the pram with his mother Alice, to copious amounts of club training sessions as well as track and field meetings and cross-country fixtures.

Born the second of three sons and a daughter, his siblings all achieved greater county athletics standards than he would.

His elder brother, Davis, was the county senior steeplechase champion in 1953. Younger sibling Bob won the county senior long jump and triple jump titles in 1955, while sister Jennifer was a Brighton Schools’ hurdles champion.

Reg himself was diagnosed with asthma by the age of three and, with the then limited knowledge, was excused at school from physical activities and woodwork due to the dust. He went to Ditchling Road School, then Brighton Intermediate School, where he stayed an extra year due to missing so much with his asthma. To stay involved in the “family” sport, he started working on the administrative side.

He also started coaching when his PE teacher, a former athlete himself, knew Reg was interested in the sport and asked him to coach discus. Reg became a club coach before he was 18 years old.

Moving on from this, it was Reg who compiled the first-ever list of Sussex records – senior men and then senior women before gradually adding different age groups.

He became a club committee member at aged 16 and a Sussex County Executive member at 17 and has remained as such for 71 years. Among his accolades, he has been county general secretary, hon secretary and coaching secretary of Brighton & Hove AC. On top of this, he was president of Sussex AA from 1975-78 and has been president of Brighton & Hove AC as well as the Sussex Schools AA.

Over the years, Reg started writing reports and taking photographs of athletics, first for the Brighton & Hove Herald, then The Argus and Brighton & Hove Gazette, as well as the West Sussex Gazette and Sussex Express & County Herald. From the start of Radio Brighton, he was a frequent reporter being the first to do a live commentary, via a mobile phone, of the Sussex Cross Country Championships. This was the first of many, including many from the England Schools Champs.

Away from athletics, Reg covered Sussex Tennis in the 1980s into this century for The Argus. This involved an invitation to the final Wightman Cup match at the Royal Albert Hall in 1989 when three Sussex players made the British team; it was then that he photographed Queen Elizabeth greeting and being introduced to the British and USA teams.

He has been heavily involved as a school governor, first at Downs Junior in 1973, where he also spent a year as chair and then at Dorothy Stringer in Brighton, from 1976 to this present day, and he spent thirteen years as Chair of the Governing Body.

In his spare time, Reg has a passion for musical theatre. He has two sons, six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

When Sussex AA launched its website in 2006, Reg became not only the provider of most of the pictures but also the News Editor, which also involved producing most of the reports. A task he continues to do.

Now well in his 80s, Reg can no longer stand at the side of events as he used to. He may not be as recognisable to the younger generation as he once was, but the work he has done and is still doing should be acknowledged by all. Reg Hook is a true Sussex AA living legend.


by Kate Matthews