Graham Botley Obituary

One of the great supporters and organisers in the world of Cross Country, Graham Botley, died peacefully at the age of 71 on Sunday 30 August in the QE II hospital in Birmingham after fighting bone cancer for 8 years.
Graham was best known for his organisation of Athletic Tours which started in 1979 because he wanted to go and support GB and England teams as there was no Company around to do this. He started with the World Cross Country Championships in Limerick, Ireland and never missed one after that and was one of the few that went to China in 2015. He subsequently attended perhaps more international athletics competitions than anyone else, retaining a special place in his heart for cross country. From 1979, this tall, recognisable figure escorted tours of supporters to all Olympic Games; World Championships, Senior, Junior and Youth; Commonwealth Games; European Championships, Senior, Junior and U23; all Indoor counterparts; World Cross Country Championships and major European summer international meetings.

In all, Graham Botley travelled to over 70 countries, with site visits one to two years ahead to ensure the best athletics’ experience for all who accompanied him. He treated everyone he met with the same courtesy and care, whether it was the experienced athletics’ connoisseur, or a ‘mum and dad’ whose son or daughter had just qualified for a GB or England Team for the first time. Many times this latter group needed tickets or access to a venue at the last minute and Graham always managed through his contacts to facilitate their presence.

He has also for many decades organised on behalf of the ECCA the Travel of England Cross Country Teams going Abroad each Winter and right up to his death had been working on the 2015-16 season. He was well known throughout Europe  by organisers and promoters alike and they sometimes asked Graham’s advice about when to hold events. His Club Blackheath Harriers of London, elected him President in 1991 and he was a member of Blackheath Harriers, now Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC, from 1966 and was a promising young runner, before turning his attention more fully to sharing his passion with others.

He made an extraordinary contribution to the sport of  Athletics and  Cross Country in particular and we shall miss his presence deeply.

Thanks to Peter Thompson for supplying information for this obituary.

Ian Byett

Hon Sec ECCA