Devastated, shocked, disbelief, writes President David Scott. Words cannot adequately reveal my emotions when, on returning from holiday on Thursday, 22nd September, I had a phone call from Richard to say that Valerie had died at two minutes to three that afternoon.
It was so hard to believe, as Valerie had said to us just before Jill and I went away that we must come to lunch when we returned. Someone, who had been part of our lives for over 50 years and who had known our children since they were born, had died so suddenly and unexpectedly.
Capable, efficient, caring and a wonderful cook, as those know who have been lucky enough to go for a meal for four or a buffet for 30, are just some of the many words that could be used to describe Valerie.
On my 2nd Three Peaks, she had taken Jill into her care and round the various points as they supported Richard and myself. Many years later she started running, joined Clayton, trained harder and went on to race all over the country winning many prizes. When Jill retired she persuaded her to take up running, join the Wrinkly Group and then Clayton. I had never succeeded in doing any of those things.
I first went to Tuesday night training at their house in 1965 when Richard and I would run to meet John Calvert for what became an eyeballs out effort. Afterwards I would go back to their home for coffee and biscuits. Over the years numbers gradually increased until after buying more and more mugs, Valerie was catering for up to 20 runners crammed into every corner of the house, with seemingly effortless efficiency.
Most of you will have come across Valerie when buying Clayton clothing, the sale and organising of which she had conducted with her usual efficiency having been Marks & Spencer trained! Or perhaps when she was distributing numbers at Mid Lancs races and sorting out those who had lost or forgotten their own number.
We had several holidays together including the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh where we saw Ron Hill win the marathon. In recent years the four of us have had two railway holidays, travelling across the USA from coast to coast, and one through Scandinavia. On those trips, Valerie and I would often laugh to each other, that as Jill and Richard carried all the money and passports, should we have lost sight of them in the crowds, then Valerie and myself would not only have been stateless, but penniless as well.
So many memories over more that 50 years. Valerie was a wife, mother and grandma amongst many other roles and she will be sorely missed by many people. I know that her death will leave a huge hole in our family as well as her own. Our thoughts are with them now and over the coming weeks and months.
The funeral will be held at 12 noon on Friday 7th October at Burnley Crematorium.