I first met Don in the mid 1950s when joining Clayton-le-Moors Harriers, writes Alistair Patten. Our winter Saturday afternoon runs were from working men’s clubs in the Accrington area near where Don lived on Avenue Parade. After the run whilst waiting for the mud to dry we were served tea in pint glasses. Summer runs on a Wednesday evening were from pubs in the local area and this is where we headed for the hills chasing after Stan Bradshaw followed by pints of beer. When Don and I worked in Blackburn we would often meet up at Witton Park for a run at lunchtime – a 5 mile run, quick shower then eat a sandwich whilst getting dressed.
Don took up orienteering and took part in the first event in England from Whitewell on the 24th November 1963 and was one of the 15 finishers. In 1964 South Ribble OC was formed and Don became a founder member of the first orienteering club in the country.
In 1965 Don took part in his first Three Peaks race and by 1995 had completed 22 races. Unknown to many Don also took part in the annual Three Peaks cyclo cross race and won the over 50s prize once. As Don favoured the tougher challenges he competed in the Fellsman Hike as a member of The Rucksack Club. When the Fell Runners Association was formed he became a keen member and from 1965 he finished in 25 of the annual Mountain Trials. After retiring from running Don volunteered for checkpoint duties.
He became a member of the BG club in 1971 with a time of 22 hours 17 minutes and became member number 7. Don was always a keen rover scout and took part in annual meets. For his services to scouting he was awarded King Scout.
Don became a munroist number 2692 in 2001 after completing the munros, tops and firths. I travelled to Ireland with him in 2001 along with a small group of his friends to polish off the last peaks. Don loved the Scottish mountains and in February each year we headed north with a group of hardy Clayton stalwarts. One year in Glencoe we were traversing a steep slope when there was a loud crack and an avalanche swept past us, we crept out of danger and decided to abort the climb. Arriving back at the YHA at midday we found an open door and due to the cold all got into our bunks. Don had acquired an ex RAF pilot’s survival suit which he was using as a sleeping bag but looked more like a Michelin man. Our laughter alerted the warden so we ere kicked out until the official 4 pm. As everybody knows Don could sleep for England.
My favourite memory of Don was in 1969 when we took part in the 2nd two day mountain marathon from Limefitt Park. On the first day I had a bad fall in some old quarry workings and gashed my hand. Don thought we should retire but at the overnight camp managed to get proper first aid. On the second day we made good progress and as we were approaching The Tongue Don dropped back on the climb. He was completely drained of energy and showing the whites of his eyes. After giving him glucose and sugary food he recovered and on the run in to the finish he left me behind. As we were lying 4th our kit had to be inspected but we could not light our stove as we had lost our matches. Frank Travis was about to disqualify us when Don flew into a violent rage complaining about Brasher’s kit which he thought was illegal. During this outburst from Don and amid all the confusion some kind person dropped a box of matches on the floor for us. Have never known Don to lose his temper like that – maybe he was on a sugar overdose.
Honorary member Donald Talbot died on Tuesday 21st November, aged 86. A Service of Thanksgiving took place on Thursday 30th November at 1 pm at Fullwood Methodist Church, Watling Street Road, Fulwood, Preston PR2 8EA.