Track stalwart who did city so proud

The year was 1937. Ernest Tranter had broken the schoolboy one-mile record at Southern Grammar School for Boys in Portsmouth.

He was 18 years old and crossed the finish line in 5min 2.4sec, shaving a staggering 19.8sec off the record.

It was an inspiring feat from a man who would go on to become a father figure of Portsmouth athletics, competing, captaining and coaching the city's brightest talent.

Earlier this year, sadly, he died aged 91.

But the legacy Tranter leaves is considerable.

Twelve years on from his record-breaking schoolboy feats, the time was overhauled by a young athlete called John Lennon.

Lennon was, in fact, Tranter's nephew and had received training sessions from his uncle.

Symbolically, Lennon wore exactly the same spikes used to set the record to break it.

More importantly, perhaps, his success showed the teaching talent of Tranter, who joined Portsmouth Athletics Club in 1947.

Tranter enjoyed a successful career in the classroom at North End modern and St Luke's teaching science.

As well as helping children throughout their academic studies, Tranter continued to nurture talent on the track, serving as captain, coach and secretary of PAC, and managing and coaching the Portsmouth Schools Athletics Association and Hampshire County Schools Athletics.

Among his success stories was his neice, Christine Benning, who represented Great Britain at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, finishing fifth in the 1,500m.

He also played a significant role in the career of one of Portsmouth's most notable sportsman, Alan Pascoe MBE, who enjoyed a glittering career on the track. Pascoe won an Olympic silver medal in the 400m hurdles and a Commonwealth gold in the 400m hurdles and was a close friend of Tranter, who had helped him in his younger days.

Pascoe went on to be appointed vice-chairman of the London bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Tranter's achievements were not just reserved for athletics and teaching.

Three years after leaving school, Tranter joined the Royal Air Force where he had hoped to become pilot.

However, his academic aptitude meant he was assigned work on experimental radar at Tangmere.

On leaving the RAF in 1946, the 27-year-old found his true calling as a teacher.

His daughter Hilary said it was coaching young athletes where Ernest had arguably the most positive effect on children's lives.

She said: 'He loved helping kids out and there are so many out there who are extremely thankful to my dad.

'After the war, a lot of kids felt lost, especially those who had failed there 11-plus.

'Dad encouraged these youngsters in sport and showed them that there was a future.'

She added: 'He helped Christine conduct her training schedule.

'She lived in Manchester but used to holiday in Portsmouth in the summer. They talked on the phone a lot to discuss athletics and I didn't realise until recently how instrumental he was in her development.'