Stuart Bennett Snr RIP
Not a Centurion - but a good friend to the Brotherhood of Centurions and racewalkers alike.
Sadly London Vidarians & Metropolitan Police stalwart stalwart Stuart Bennett has passed on. He was a WW2 Fleet Air Arm pilot (flying Swordfish & Barracuda aircraft from aircraft carriers), Police Chief Inspector, Lay Preacher, Nijmegan marcher, Church alter server & sidesman, hospital visitor, collector of paperweights, family man and prolific fund raiser for the Royal British Legion & RNLI. He annually visited Ypres and gave talks about Battlefields - never charging a fee, but accepting donations for his charities.
Stuart finished 94 Blackheath 9K Handicap races and would certainly have joined that exclusive group who completed 100 of these events, but for a serious moped accident (when aged 75) which left him with one leg shorter than his other. He was a regular judge/timekeeper at events, and was on the stopwatch for our televised BBC Breakfast Time race in Battersea Park. In 2008 he appeared on ITN news talking about what Remembrance Day meant. Stuart had been involved in hockey and tug-of-war, indeed the latter pursuit brought him into walking...yes! At a Bank's Sports ground in Norbury with his tug-of-war team, he saw some elderly men (our sport's image again) race walking, looked at the action and believed he could make his mark...and, of course, did! His funeral service at St.Oswald's in Norbury (he was a parishioner) was very well attended. Among many mourners were Metropolitan Police Walking Club colleagues, other retired Metropolitan Police Officers and those from our race walking world including Blackheath Park 9K regulars, among them 4 of those 6 to have completed 100 of these races.
One such walker, Centurion Bob Watts, walked before the coffin with a Royal British Legion Standard and, at the Committal, spoke those powerful words from Laurence Binyon's poem "For The Fallen". The well composed Eulogy was spoken by Andy Bignold who deservedly received applause. Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to the Undertaker : Dowsett & Jenkins, 1,507 London Road, Norbury, London. SW16 4AE. Cheques payable to Royal British Legion or RNLI as you wish. His funeral service on Tuesday 13th November, was followed by cremation at Croydon Crematorium. Thanks to Chris Flint & Andy Bignold, current and immediate past MPWC Chairmen, for much of this information. To his daughter Sarah, who resides in Yately, and all other of his family members we send heartfelt condolence.
Stuart Bennett Snr RIP