It is with great regret that we have to report the death of longstanding Brighton & Hove AC coach Roger Wardale at the age of 78. Until the past few years Roger had been one of the Counties leading sprints coaches and was one of the longest serving Coaches, official and administrators in Sussex. He started out his active days at Bognor where he was a good standard county sprinter, before moving into coaching. After qualifying at King Alfred’s College, Winchester, he became a Primary School teacher returning to Bognor to work, latterly at Nyewood junior School, and in time he took over the running of the Bognor Regis Athletic Club and led it to become a considerable force in Sussex in Track and Field athletics.
Wardale coached a wide range of athletes including several English Schools medallists, such as sprinter Andy Parker, long jumper Marion Wolsey and discus thrower Carol Mitchell. Although he mainly coached girls and women Andy Parker was probably Wardale’s most successful athlete and Parker still remains the Sussex 100m record holder at 10.3 having set that mark in 1983.
Wardale was also to become the Sussex Schools General Secretary and Team manager, a position he held for more than a decade. He eventually moved to the Brighton & Hove club coaching many athletes there and spent many years as Women’s track team manager while he was also to team manage Sussex County teams as well as being a top international grade track judge officiating at many meetings across the Southern Counties including many County championships and International events.
Apart from his athletics Roger was also an expert on Arthur Ransome the writer of Swallows and Amazons and was a founder member of the Arthur Ransome Society and co-editor of its Journal.
He wrote several books on Arthur Ransome including the well received biography “Nancy Blacket”. He was a man of high standards and sometimes a little rigid but he made a remarkable contribution to athletics in Sussex and particularly Sussex Schools athletics.