Brighton and Hove AC, Sussex AA and Sussex Schools’ are heartbroken to announce the death of Reg Hook. Surrounded by his family, Reg, 88, died peacefully on Saturday, 27th May 2023, at Victoria Highgrove Nursing Home in Hove, after months of deteriorating health. We mourn the loss of an extraordinary individual who dedicated over eight decades of his life to our sport. Reg’s absence will be deeply felt by all who knew him.
Reg Hook was the person who came to mind for anyone involved in Sussex Athletics. He tirelessly worked behind the scenes, organising events, serving on committees, and capturing unforgettable moments with his camera. He brought intelligence, warmth and insight into all he did, and he was forward-thinking, caring deeply about improving and developing athletics for the next generation.
Born into the sport in June 1934, from the beginning, Reg had athletics coursing through his veins. His father Jack was the treasurer at Brighton & Hove County Harriers, now known as Brighton & Hove AC, and in 1924 Jack was one of the “founding fathers” of Sussex County Athletics. As a young child in a pram, Reg would accompany his mother, Alice, to countless club training sessions, track and field meets, and cross-country fixtures. Although his siblings surpassed him in achieving greater county athletics standards, Reg’s love for the sport never wavered.
Diagnosed with asthma aged three, Reg was later excused from physical activities and woodworking at school due to his condition. Nevertheless, he found a way to remain involved in the sport he held dear. He started working on the administrative side and began coaching discus with the encouragement of his PE teacher, who recognised his passion for athletics. Before he turned 18, Reg had become a club coach.
His dedication and commitment to the sport continued to shine as Reg compiled the first-ever list of Sussex records, initially for senior men and women and later expanded to include different age groups. He joined the Brighton and Hove AC committee at the age of 16 and the Sussex County Executive at 17, remaining in these roles for an astounding 72 years. Throughout his journey, Reg served as county general secretary, hon secretary, and coaching secretary of Brighton & Hove AC. He was president of Sussex AA from 1975 to 1978 and served as president of Brighton & Hove AC and the Sussex Schools AA.
Reg was a great servant of Sussex Schools Athletics, holding every position on the committee over 60 plus years: Team Manager, Secretary, Treasurer, Chairman and since 2000 President of the Association.
Reg’s passion for athletics extended beyond administrative roles. He began writing reports and taking photographs of athletics, sharing his insights with the Brighton & Hove Herald, The Argus, Brighton & Hove Gazette, West Sussex Gazette, and Sussex Express & County Herald. He was even the first to provide live commentary, via a mobile phone, of the Sussex Cross Country Championships on Radio Brighton. This was just the beginning of many commentaries, including those from the English Schools Championships.
Not limited to athletics, Reg also covered Sussex Tennis from the 1980s for The Argus. One notable event was the final Wightman Cup match at the Royal Albert Hall in 1989, where he had the privilege of photographing Queen Elizabeth as she greeted and was introduced to the British and USA teams.
Reg’s dedication to education and community extended to his involvement as a school governor. He served at Downs Junior, where he also chaired for a year, and later at Dorothy Stringer in Brighton, holding the position from 1976 onwards. He served as Chair of the Governing Body for thirteen years, leaving a lasting impact on the educational landscape.
Outside of his involvement in athletics and education, Reg had a deep passion for musical theatre. He was a proud father of two sons, a loving grandfather of six, and a cherished great-grandfather to nine.
Reg never stopped contributing to Sussex AA. When the organisation launched its website in 2006, he became the provider of most of the pictures and also the News Editor, taking on the responsibility of producing all the reports. He carried out this task with unwavering dedication. His knowledge and historical insights always added to the coverage of events. It was indeed only last month that Reg stepped back from all of his roles, as his health deteriorated.
As age caught up with him, Reg could no longer stand at the side of events as he once did. While he may not have been as recognisable to the younger generation, his remarkable contributions to the landscape of Sussex Athletics should be celebrated and acknowledged by all. Reg leaves behind a legacy of dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment to the sport he loved. He will forever be remembered as a Sussex AA legend.
We extend our heartfelt condolences and deep appreciation to Reg’s wife, Pat, whose generous support enabled our sport to benefit so immensely from Reg’s contributions, to his sons Jonathan and Gavin and to his wider family and many, many friends.
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