On Monday morning Debbie Hales a dearly beloved friend of Bolton United Harrier passed away. Those privileged to have known Debbie will never forget her bubbly smile, her fun, the twinkle in her eye and boundless energy. She embodied the spirit of community feeling at the club where friends in need were never alone. The Hales’ clan would descend to help in the event of a flood or just to lay a new laminate floor, nothing was too much. She could always be relied upon at club events and officiated at athletics events including the commonwealth games in Manchester where she was nearly crushed by Jonathon Edwards while on raking duties.
With her beloved husband Ian, the dynamic duo were monumental in the development of hundreds if not thousands of young athletes lives’ in the club. Their energies were not confined to the track but to disciplines including cross country, road and the fells. Every club event from serving vimto in the club-house at the end of a cold nights training to organising trips to Paderborn or Lille were spearheaded by this wonderful couple. The cross-country course at Bolton through the river under the bridge will never be forgotten by participants. Those hundreds of young athletes who boarded the red double decker bus driven by Ian to the Blackpool Illuminations meeting and other athletics tracks around the north have the couple to thank. With their support outstanding Bolton Harriers athletes like Stuart Stokes and Brian Hall raised to national level.
Their children Michael, Jason, Martin, Joanne and Matthew were key members of the club’s teams. They completed in a full range of events from pole-vault and Hammer throwing to the roads and fells. Jason was honoured in gaining a junior vest for England on the fells together with club mates Stuart Stokes and Chris Caldwell.
Debbie’s life took an horrendous turn on Good Friday 2003 when a tragic accident resulted in Ian’s death and life threatening injuries to Debbie. The work of the lifeboat crew in strenuously attempting to save their lives resulted in her boundless energies being diverted to supporting the Blackpool lifeboat station. Undeterred by heart surgery and endless tests and treatment for cancer she fought on to fund raise many thousands of pounds to support the group. In her honour the flag at the lifeboat station was lowered to half mast.
Debbie , you have a special place in our hearts and all those past and present in Bolton Harriers that you have touched with your love and devotion. God Bless.