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ATHLETICS

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There is an interesting episode related further down this page - Gervas was a life-member of the Achilles Club, and always took an interest.  In 1958 he wrote to the other eight members in Northern Rhodeisa with an interesting proposal.  See below.


Text below in blue is by kind courtesy of Paul Willcox, Hon. Sec. of the Achilles Club.

gervas at lancing

Gervas at Lancing

 

new college team photograph

New College team photograph

 

new college team photograph 2

The trophy between Gervas' feet (a baton with engraved silver bands), signifies his part in Oxford's win in the 4 x 120y hurdles in the Oxford v Cambridge Relays match. The trophy (on which Gervas' name can be found) is still awarded annually.

 

gcrc behind burghley 1

GCRC behind Burghley

 

gcrc behind burghley 2

GCRC still behind Burghley

 

achilles club team

Oxford University Athletics Club team, 1929. Gervas was a Half Blue

 

Gervas's best year as an athlete seems to have been 1929 (aged 22), when he was 2nd string in the Varsity Match 120y hurdles, gained a Standard Medal at the AAA Championships at 440y hurdles, and won the 120y hurdles for Achilles in a match against Wales at Swansea on 24th August (time 16 3/5 sec)

He competed in early 1930 before setting sail for Africa, placing 2nd at 120y hurdles for Achilles v Sussex at Brighton on 21st May and 3rd at 440y hurdles and 2nd at 120y hurdles v Atalanta and the Universities Union at Birmingham on 24th May.
 
Gervas's medals and cups are held by Eric Clay, the son of Gervas's youngest son Crispin.  Eric lives near - erm - Cambridge.

Box 36,

Confidential                                           Livingstone.
3rd June, 1958

Dear
Like myself you will all of you have received recently the 1956 Annual Report of the Achilles Club with list of members. From this list it appears that there are at least nine members of the Club in Northern Rhodesia and I believe there may well be more. (If you know of other members please send me their addresses so that I can contact them).


2. It has seemed to me for some time that we members of the Achilles Club should organise ourselves to do what we can to further athletics in this country in which we are now living. I have always hoped that one day an Oxford and Cambridge Athletic team might visit the Federation and that we members might give a party for the visiting team and I hope that this will happen one day. Meanwhile I believe the time has come for us to take a more active part, as local members of the most famous athletic Club in the world, towards the furthering of athletics in N. Rhodesia.

3. I hope in reading this letter you will appreciate that I am writing from the strictly athletic, and non-political, standpoint!

4. No country, in these days of acute international competition, can afford not to be represented by the best amateur athletes it can produce. If at some future date we could persuade "athletics" to break away from the Union of South Africa, we could ask for and obtain the holding of the Empire Games within the Federation.

5. I do not think that there is much hope today of holding open competitions between black and white, though both are now catered for to some extent by their own meetings.

6. I do believe the time has come to encourage both white and black to take an interest in the others' performances as a first step towards producing an athletic team for competition in international contests, without regard to colour, such as the Olympic and Empire Games.

7. I have given the matter a great deal of thought, and I believe that we should give a trophy for a schoolboy competition between towns on a relay basis between teams of four, two of whom would be European and two African.
Leaving out for the present the hurdles, the events would be:
4 x 100 yards 4 x 220 yards
4 x 440 yards 4 x 880 yards
4 x 1 mile
That is each team would consist of a maximum of 20 boys of whom two in each event would be European and two African. Teams would be arranged in order of running according to athletic requirement and not colour.

8. The effect of such a competition would be to have crowds of supporters shouting encouragement for their team regardless of whether the runner was black or white. It would mean that the schools themselves in each town would take an interest in the sports of the school of the other colour, and that competitors would have to meet beforehand and practise baton-changing together.
Because the boys would be of an average age of 18 or so, they would be able to bring some pressure to bear on their parents to let them take part, where the parents might have strong colour-bar feelings. The boys would want to make the team and have the outing.

9. I believe a start could be made with Lusaka, Livingstone, and perhaps Broken Hill and Ndola, and that the Copperbelt would fall into line later. I think the competition would have to be run, with our help, by the schools in our towns, and I think we should keep matters on as local a basis as possible to begin with (i.e. I don't think we should go to ministerial level to get approval.)

10. You will of course remember that Object 2(c) of our Constitution is "to encourage relay and team racing."

11 If funds were required for travelling expenses and for representative vests for competitors, I think we could get help from the Cultural and Sporting Board for travelling expenses and from the Municipalities for representative vests

12. Would you please let me know whether:
(a) You approve of the idea?
(b) You will support me in organising such a competition?
(c) You would prefer to subscribe locally for a trophy to be given by us, or to ask our parent body the Achilles Club -to -donate a trophy?
(d) Whether you know of any other members of the Club in N.R.?

13. Meanwhile, would you please treat this letter as confidential until we see how much support I have among you

Yours sincerely,

G. C. R. CLAY.


Sent to the following eight people – Gervas was the ninth NR member of the Achilles Club. 

C.W. Bensen
c/o Dept of Game & Tsetse Control,
P.O. Box 72, Lusaka

D.G. Brown
c/o Secretariat,
Lusaka

D.R. Martin
c/o The African Education Dept.,
Box 593,
Lusaka

I.R. Menzies, D.S.C.
57 East Ave, Luanshya

H.R.E. Mitchley
P.O. Box 1994,
Lusaka

N.S. Price, O.B.E.
Provincial Commissioner,
Kasama

J.M.E. Took
Prime Minister’s Office
Causeway
Salisbury

A.D. Walden-Jones
c/o The African Education Dept.
Ft. Jameson


I have found no other documents related to this, not a single reply.




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