Running royalty enjoys date with queen

Cruise  16/04/09  (RS)''Pat Butcher from Waterlooville who is a finalist in the Cruise the Coast competition.'PICTURE: IAN HARGREAVES  (091361-3)

Cruise 16/04/09 (RS)''Pat Butcher from Waterlooville who is a finalist in the Cruise the Coast competition.'PICTURE: IAN HARGREAVES (091361-3)

Nicole Ainsworth

Ainsworth close to Fareham parkrun course record

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LEGENDARY City of Portsmouth coach Pat Butcher’s dedication to athletics has been honoured by the queen.

Butcher last month attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace in recognition of over 40 years of commitment to her sport.

I did enjoy it. I didn’t have to do anything so I was happy!

Pat Butcher

And the 78-year-old was also lauded by the great and good of the running world at a surprise gathering in Titchfield.

Butcher, who has coached a string of international runners to success, was nominated for her royal recognition by City club-mates and friends.

That paved the way her trip to the capital where her dedication was acknowledged by the Queen.

Butcher, who still continues to train athletes, admitted it was an occasion which will stay with her.

She said: ‘It’s been quite a period.

‘It was nice to go Buckingham Palace and was a lovely day.

‘I did enjoy it. I didn’t have to do anything so I was happy!

‘I was very impressed with the Queen. She isn’t young but was able to walk around, chat to people and smile.

‘I didn’t feel it at the time, but it’s something I can look back at with pride.

‘The coaching is something I enjoy. The reason I’ve done it all these years is because I enjoy it.

‘To see kids enjoying themselves and the look on their faces as they achieve things is wonderful.’

Butcher was then honoured by a huge turnout from the running world.

Over 200 people turned out for the event, with a number of highly-regarded faces from the sport present.

With Butcher training over a dozen international runners, there were plenty of athletes at the event with stellar CVs.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Michael East was there, with the Olympic 1,500m finallist trained by Butcher.

English national cross-country champion Justin Pugsley attended, while Olympic 3,000m steeplechase bronze medallist, Mark Rowland, sent a message from America.

Butcher’s first international, Hazel Wade, was in attendance, with Steve Arnold and Matt de Freitas sending audio and video messages.

On top of that, a number of athletics dignitaries also paid tribute to Butcher, with England Athletics (Ian Byett), the British Milers’ Club (Neville Taylor) and Portsmouth Schools (Peter Murphy) all represented. City stalwart George Moralee was also present.

Butcher was then the subject of a This is Your Life-style presentation, with her legendary fours, threes, twos training session and love of dogs also prominent.

‘It was lovely,’ she added.

‘There was a particular session I started in the 70s – the fours, threes and twos.

‘That’s been there since then. I’ve always thought why change a session which is successful and enjoyed.

‘A lot was made of that – and my dogs! ‘It was nice, I must admit.

‘My family and (City of Portsmouth’s) Paul Bleach put in a lot of work to make the day memorable.

‘There were representatives from the British Milers’ Club and other organisations.

‘It’s been planned for three months and I did not have a clue it was happening. It’s a day I won’t forget.’

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