11th May 1950 ~ 21st November 2018
It is with great sadness that we have to relay the news that one of the club’s most significant members, Sally Dormer, passed on Wednesday 21st November 2018 after a short illness.
I know many of you will not have known Sally but she was quick witted, kind and always seemed happy. Her contribution to the club along with her husband Roger, who survives her, cannot be understated. Together they served, with Roger as Chair and Sally as Secretary and Treasurer, steering the club through many years. To those of us who joined in that period they were the Fern Hoppers, and set the culture for our friendly, inclusive and mutually supportive club.
Sally and Roger moved back to their native Northamptonshire a few years ago after retirement, but still followed club activities and regularly returned to help out at the Wobbly Wobbly Log Jog and even took the opportunity to run it for the first time ever.
Sally had not always been a runner, but she and Roger used to play badminton at the leisure centre and there in 1992 she met Martha Stanton, John Sholine and Derek Haddon (all founder members of the club). Martha said to Sally “You look like you can run!” So Sally agreed to give it a go and the following Tuesday ran 7 miles in her plimsoles! Martha was not wrong, Sally was a talented runner and in our early days with the club it was always worth staying for the prize giving as Sally usually picked up a win in her age category and we could cheer a Fern Hopper success!
Shortly after this Sally agreed to take on the ‘paperwork’ for the club, which turned out to be three sheets of paper in a plastic bag! This change necessitated Sally notifying UK Athletics, so the members discussed registering a new name at the same time. several suggestions were discussed in the leisure centre one evening after a run; Brandon Bramble Busters, or the Nettle Bashers or the Fern Hoppers. Sally registered our name and the rest, as they say, is history.
It was not just our quirky name that Sally had a hand in though, our distinctive fluorescent lime green kit can also be credited to her. One day Sally found a box of lime green shirts for sale in a concession tent at a race and, as they were a bargain, decided to buy them for the club. She had the club name printed on them in dark purple and the colours were duly registered with UKA. These days we have a number of imitators but back when we first ran with the club our kit was almost unique and Fern Hoppers always really stood out at a race!
Many of you will of course be familiar with ‘Dormer Corner’, one of our regular re group points in the forest. Originally given a somewhat cruder name it was renamed in her honour. Dormer Corner is a forest crossroads atop a small ascent and one day on a club run Sally, who was no doubt leading the field, achieved the summit first! To (humorously) emphasise her athletic prowess Sally began to do press ups as others struggled to the re group. As we all know, pride comes before a fall and on standing upright Sally discovered she had placed her hand in some dog poo!
There were times when membership and attendance dwindled to unsustainable levels but Sally and Roger kept going and without them I doubt our club would exist for us to enjoy today. Our club, with its wonderful warm ethos, is her legacy and we should all strive to honour it!
The next time you rest at Dormer Corner maybe just spare a moment to think of a slight red haired lady doing press ups.
Paul Meader & Steve Brodie – November 2018
Back in 2006 I took an impulsive decision to move from Somerset to Norfolk/Suffolk, I really didn’t have a clue what I was going to do, other than I had a job with the MOD, or how things were going to work out. Luckily for me I had got in touch with this running club before travelling up for my interview. I turned up on the Tuesday evening to run. They were all welcoming and friendly and I ran along with a lady called Sandra and we chatted along the way including about my situation. A week or so later back in Somerset I get an e-mail from a guy called Ian telling me if I get in touch with a guy called Roger he may be able to help with accommodation. The outcome was I had a little annex (49a) on the side of Roger & Sally’s cottage, they immediately welcomed me into their home, so much so that the first thing Roger said to me after introductions was ‘hurry up and get sorted, we’re going up the pub!’
Roger and Sally effectively took me under their wing at a time when I was very unsure of my future, Sally kept me running, regularly dragging me off to XC races on Wednesdays, Tuesdays to the club and at weekends if it wasn’t club we’d be off with other Fern Hoppers across Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex or Leicestershire for a race somewhere. I owe Roger, Sally, Sandra, Ian and the Fern Hoppers so much more than most of them (you) will ever know.
Martin Monaghan – Novemeber 2018