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Tributes are paid to Sir Christopher Chataway

Tributes are paid to Sir Christopher Chataway

TRIBUTES have been paid to the former athlete Sir Christopher Chataway who has passed away at the age of 82.

Although Sir Christopher’s athletics career was relatively short, it included breaking the world 5,000m record and playing a key role when Roger Bannister became the first person to break the four-minute mile barrier.

1954 was to be Sir Christopher’s special year when he acted as a pacemaker (along with Chris Brasher) for Bannister (see below), clinched Commonwealth Gold in the three-mile event before setting the new world record in the 5,000m (13 mins 51.6 secs). He then ended a momentous year by being named the first-ever BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

The following year he embarked on a career in broadcasting while keeping-up his training regime on the track. Sir Christopher had set his sights on running in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, but still found time to become a television journalist with ITN. Unfortunately, his running suffered and he finished 11th. in the 5,000m event in Australia.

But by 1959, Sir Christopher was already entering a new career, this time in politics. He had been serving as a Conservative councillor on London County Council before being elected as MP for Lewisham North. During his period in Parliament, which ended with defeat in the 1966 election, he served as a Parliamentary Private Secretary before being appointed as a junior Education Minister.

After losing his seat, Sir Christopher was encouraged by his party to join the Inner London Education Authority where he played a major role in preventing a controversial policy of replacing existing comprehensive schools being pushed through.

He returned to Parliament in 1969 after winning a by-election in Chichester. Prime Minister Edward Heath appointed him as Minister of Posts and Telecommunications in 1970, a role which saw Sir Christopher in charge of introducing commercial radio to the UK. In in the Government reshuffle of 1972 he became minister of Industrial Development. But following defeat in the 1974 general election, Sir Christopher announced his retirement from politics.

For most of the 1970s and 80s, Sir Christopher balanced board positions with various businesses with work in the charity sector with organisations such as Groundwork and ActionAid.

He became chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority in 1991 and also served as President of the Commonweath Games Council for England from 1990 and 2009. His Knighthood was awarded in 1995 for services to aviation.

Sir Christopher had been suffering from cancer and passed away at the hospice in London.

Among the many tributes was one from his friend Sir Roger Bannister, who said: “He was gallant to the end. Our friendship dated back over more than half a century. We laughed, ran and commiserated together. People will always remember him for the great runner he was but it shouldn’t be forgotten that he had an extremely distinguished career off the track.”

To view footage of Sir Christopher acting as a pacemaker for Sr Roger Bannister, click here.

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