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24 Apr, 2017

Comrades Marathon Association Mourns Loss of Dudley St John-Ward

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The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) is saddened by the loss of its Finish Procedure Convenor, Dudley St John-Ward. He passed away last Friday at the age of 70. Dudley was funny, friendly and always smiling with an admirable period of volunteerism at the Comrades Marathon, spanning nearly three decades.

Dudley has been described as a genuine people’s person who was positive, humble and always approachable. He loved the Comrades Marathon, having run the race 11 times consecutively, from 1980 to 1990 with a Comrades best time of 8:23 in 1984.

He was a proud member of the Comrades Marathon Green Number Club and further went on to receive his Comrades Green Name award in lieu of his exemplary voluntary service to the association.

CMA Chairperson, Sifiso Nzuza says, “He was a popular, beloved and invaluable member of Team Comrades whose role as Finish Procedure Convenor was absolutely integral to the smooth running on race day and the success of the Comrades Marathon. During the 17 years that Dudley was in charge of the Finish Procedure, hundreds of thousands of runners passed through the well-oiled machine of the Comrades finish chutes, proudly clutching their medals and badges, being offered a refreshing cold drink or a cup of hot soup, and when necessary, dispatched off to the Medical Tent.”

Nzuza tells us that Dudley’s volunteerism is inspiring. “He will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by all members of Team Comrades on 4 June when the best tribute we can pay to him is to carry on in the proud tradition of selfless and voluntary service to others which he exemplified. He inspired many people to give of their best. Rest in Peace Dudley, and our sincere condolences to his wife Anne and family.”

Former CMA Chairperson, Peter Proctor tells us that Dudley helped out on the Comrades Marathon’s Finish Procedure Portfolio for many years until he became the portfolio holder in 2000.

Peter says, “Dudley was a friend to all. He was a jovial and lovable character and always showed a kind heart and willingness to help. His years of service to the Comrades Marathon was a glittering example where he carried out his duties without complaint or falter.”

CMA General Manager, Chris Fisher says, “Our deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences go out from the Comrades Marathon Association to Dudley’s family and friends on his passing. It was an honour to have been a part of his life. We were truly blessed to have known and to have worked alongside such a wonderful person for so many years. He will be truly missed and always remembered.”

Chris adds, “The playing of the Last Post on the Comrades finish line at 17h30 at this year’s race will hold particular significance for all CMA members.”

Former CMA Chairperson, Jeff Minnaar says, “Having been to school with Dudley and working with him at Comrades for 17 years, I am shattered that my dear young friend has left us without notice. Dudley was a pleasure to work and socialise with, so easy-going and always willing to assist and find solutions not only to his problems but for yours as well. Dudley was a friend indeed and a friend in need. Rest in peace Dudley!”

Desagie Naidoo, Workshop Manager of the Pietermaritzburg Mental Health Society says, “Dudley was just such an affable person. The bulk of the people at our society are intellectually challenged and psychiatrically ill; however in spite of this, Dudley always treated them with dignity and respect. I remember Dudley’s wonderful gesture after last year’s Comrades Marathon when he bought a packet of biscuits for each of the 105 members at the society as a personal token of gratitude for the packing of the Comrades badges and flashes for the athletes. Everyone at the Buxton Protective Workshop will miss him dearly.”

CMA Board Member, Isaac Ngwenya says, “Dudley was an amazing person who always made time for people. I am so shocked at his untimely passing. He was helpful and took his volunteerism at the Comrades very seriously. He went beyond the call of duty to ensure that his portfolio was immaculately executed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time. We are going to miss him greatly.”

CMA Elder, Henry Makhathini says, “I am very sad and shocked to hear about Dudley’s passing. I knew him from back in 1989 when I met him at the Fire Department where he worked for a long time. We then started working with him at Comrades from 1990 when he was involved at the finish. Dudley had an everlasting smile. He was always happy. Whenever you met him, you had to laugh. He was also very gifted with his hands. Our homes were separated by a railway line and I vividly remember him coming to my house to check my built-in cupboards. From the moment he arrived right up until he left, we couldn’t stop laughing at all the stories he had told us about his childhood days. May his soul rest in peace.”

“When I assumed the position of Race Director three years ago (and just 2 months before race day) the Finish Procedure portfolio was managed by Dudley. His first meet with me was fun, happy, bubbly, laid back interaction where his words of “Don’t worry my china all is under control, you can focus elsewhere.” True to his words that was the case. In the years that followed I never needed to focus on that portfolio as I knew that Dudley had it under control. Such was the meticulous and professional approach that he had to his portfolio. He was and always will be an iconic figure on the finish line and someone who managed it admirably.”

CMA Marketing Manager, Thami Vilakazi says, “I will miss your friendly smile and the funny jokes you used to tell every time we met. Rest in Peace Dudley!”

CMA Procurement Officer, Alain Dalais says, “Dudley always had an entertaining story about his past Comrades Marathon experiences, and he always shared these stories every time we met. He was always bubbly and cheerful, from the time he greeted us with the words “Howzit China”. His passion for the Comrades Marathon and his Finish Procedure portfolio was admirable and I looked up to him and respected him both as a great man and as a person that truly embodied the spirit and camaraderie of the Comrades Marathon.”

Manager of the Nedbank Running Club, Nick Bester says, “It is indeed sad news to have lost Dudley. He will be remembered as a stalwart on the Comrades Marathon finish line. May he rest in peace.”

CMA Technical Portfolio Convenor, Henry Somaru says, “I'm very saddened to hear of the sudden passing away of Dudley. It was an absolute pleasure to have worked with him at Comrades and to have known him. My condolences to his family, colleagues and friends.”

CMA Maintenance Officer, Louis van der Linden says, “Except for Dudley''s contagious laugh and never-ending doses of good humour, I will always remember him as the guy who set up the timing clocks on the Comrades lead vehicles. Virtually every year, different cars were being used and Dudley had the daunting task of having to make a plan to fix the clocks on the roofs of cars that were not really designed for roof carriers. But Dudley never gave up. At two o’ clock on the morning of the race, one will invariably see Dudley sweating away, making a plan and tuning the clocks to the correct times. We will miss you Dudley!”

CMA Board Member, Alen Hattingh reflects on his first meeting with Dudley, “I met him almost 30 years ago when the new elite club, Maritzburg Striders was being formed in Pietermaritzburg. At Cross Country, at the gun, Dudley would take off like a rocket and be in the lead for about 100m and the field would only catch up with him once they were in the bush. We always laughed and joked about the way he always gave the top runners a fright. Every time we met, we rehashed the story and as we all know, Dudley was a great story teller. I loved being in Dudley’s company and enjoyed working with him in the finish area at Comrades. I will miss you Dudley.”

Former CMA Board Member, Terence Hoskins says, “I was privileged to have known Dudley from our running days. I also met his wife, Anne and enjoyed many a good time with them. His dedication to the Comrades Marathon was outstanding. His sense of humour and goodwill amongst all who knew him will be missed for a long time to come. On behalf of Lola and myself, I wish Anne and the family strength and comfort.”

Colin Higgins says, “On behalf of everyone at Pretoria Metal Badge and Button, our sincerest condolences on the loss of Dudley. Our hearts go out to his family and the Comrades team during this time.”

The memorial service for Dudley will be held on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 at 14hoo at the Lutheran Church – 2 Bester Road, Hayfields in Pietermaritzburg.