Tributes to Alec received so far
Rob Nixon with Alec (see Rob’s tribute below)
I was sorry to read of Alec’s passing. He was a great help to me when I joined the club as a shy teenager in the 70s and taught me a lot about running and about life. Thanks so much Alec.
Just seen this sad news on the off chance. So sad to hear the passing of a very nice person that I met on numerous occasions, when I was with Ilford and ran from the club house at Hainault Forest on Sunday mornings. He will be sadly missed and an inspiration to young people of today that you can still keep going, age is no barrier. RIP Alec
Alec was so very special - how can you compose in a few words the true worth and essence of such a friend - a more agreeable companion you would never find - in later years I took to calling him “Sir Alec” and his response would always be one of shy diffidence and a sheepish grin.
So how can we recall the Alec as we knew him I suggest for one the image of Alec in full flowing race walking mode an action free of unnessary frills and secondly I offer the following.
These are Alec's own words (first two paragraphs) when he responded to my request back in 1998 (our 75th year) for some 'copy' in the club magazine, all the words are Alec's none added or deleted. As you start to read you will find that you are actually listening to our dear friend's spoken word.
AN OLD FART'S RECOLLECTIONS
From ALEC TIFFIN
Your editor has vey cleverly put a pistol to the head of three previous producers of the Club magazine by suggesting that failure to provide 'copy' for this special anniversary edition will mar his desired over-all effect! - cobblers, I thought!. Nevertheless, and somewhat reluctantly, and knowing full well that the reaction of younger members who will be muttering about yey another old boy reminiscing about the good old days...well, I guess that is exactly what I shall have to do.
Incidently, have you noticed at any gathering of the older element how the topic of conversations switches inevitability to the 'good old days'? We can happily natter on for hours on end on hazy recollections of those dim glorious epochs, and relive every race to the last gasp. We may not have won the race, but we did set another P.B., a sure yardstick of our progress and reflection of all the hard training. Young members of today do not appear so concerned. Perhaps they are not so stupid!
God Speed Sir Alec.
Alec was a wonderful man who, whenever I was in his company, never ceased to stop smiling. He always wanted to know how you were doing, what you'd been up to. Many people associated with the club will know that Alec coached dad to the Essex 1500m title in 1974. What some may not realise is that when dad coached me to the same title in 2008, the training programme that dad devised for me was the same programme Alec had given to dad 34 years previously. Alec was not only a great man but a great coach too. My lasting memory of Alec will be a photo I have of Alec and myself taken by the finish line at Cricklefields in 2008 complete with the Essex 1500m trophy. Dad said he was a father to so many but I can say he was a grandad as well.
Alec was a quiet, reserved and talented man; and a family man. He loved his family and they loved him. But as we all know, he also had a second family, Ilford athletic club. He served the club for nearly 70 years and it is fair to say he was the most loved of the IAC family.
He started his athletic career as a race walker in the late 1940's before switching to middle distance, cross country and road racing. He ran good times on the track but never quite reached the top level in the club and moved into coaching in the early sixties. However, for my generation, his real halcyon days were in the mid sixties when he became Youth team Manager. We were an ok team who Alec transformed into a winning team that always either won or medalled in the prestigious road relay circuit. But the win that meant most to him, and us, was the prized Essex Cross Country Championship win of 1965 - one of our, and his, proudest moments. After this the team had lots of individual success on the track but broke up, with his blessing and encouragement. Alec always said education came before running and Roy Snow and Steve Richardson went off to University/College. He also still loved race walking and he was pleased when Roger Mills, Brian Armstrong and Geoff Hunwicks more formally committed themselves to this, which then left Keith Philips, Colin Fox and me to continue our running with Alec. However the lasting memory of that time is one of fun, laughter, committed training and a love for Alec was to last a lifetime.
In amongst this we should not forget Alec was a knowledgeable coach who read up on Stamphl, Ceruty, Lyddiard and others but was always of the view it was 'horses for courses' and he put together a programme for me that was to win us his other prized target, the Essex 1500. His delight that day is a picture that will never leave me.
On the club front his contribution was to continue unabated as he held a series of official club posts, some of which he loved and some undertaken as a sense of duty! In particular though he edited and produced the much valued club magazine, an archive of which still sits upstairs in is house. Even when Alec took a 'back-seat' he never stopped supporting the club, officiating and helping out at meetings and so on. I wonder how many of us can still see him lifting hurdles off the track, taking results to the hut, raking the sandpit etc
Away from IAC Alec was an engraver by trade and a very good one. But his real talent, a hidden talent, was that he was an outstanding painter who had his work exhibited. Most were portraits from photographs and the most moving was of his lifetime friend Fred Plum, followed, in my opinion, by Nelson Mandela! But what this hidden talent emphasises about Alec is that he was a quiet, reserved man, and not one to show off his remarkable talents and qualities.
Socially Alec was much the same. He loved to be part of the group but never the centre of attention.
He loved a pint of beer and conversation and images of him, Fred Plum, Alan Lovett, Brenda Mason and the raucous sprinters in the Cauliflower, and later with Gerry, Les, Stuart, Andy, John P and John Mc at the Chigwell Row pubs bring a smile and chuckle. And in these situations you saw the friendly, caring, thoughtful side of Alec. He was a listener, a giver, always putting others first. There would always be a “How are you”, “How's the family”, “How's training”, “How's work”, and he would leave you the time and freedom to open up if you wanted. He was a counsellor without the title, and more. He was a gentleman and a gentle man and a second father to me and so many others.
My strongest memories are of winning. The Essex cross country, the Ilford Youths road relay and several others. I still have the photo of me and Tony with Keith and Roy and all the trophies lined in front...great times. But most of all was the friendships and the respect and the pride. Alec was central to all these things. He gave you self-respect at a time when we were just developing our personalities. He recognized the strengths and weaknesses of each of us.....knowing whom of us would have a 'scintillating run' and whom a 'sizzling finish' that would clinch the gold medals for the team. He had an enormous effect upon me and my life and I shall never forget him and always remember him fondly, as I will my fellow team members...all with great talent that Alec helped to maximize.
Really nice guy Alec.
The news does not come as a surprise, but it is a sad moment for me. Alec was the sole motivator and inspiration for me - and no doubt others - as a Youth and Junior and I fully appreciate all the effort he put in to coach and provide me with training schedules when I was unable to visit Cricklefields. I am well aware that his overall health has been deteriorating with the notes he has written to me in recent years, but as always when the time comes it is very sad.
He was a true gentleman
I was saddened to hear of the passing of Alec Tiffin. Alex was a shy, kind generous man who I have known for nearly 70 years. The vast majority will not realise that Alec started as a race walker and I still believe he would have reached greater heights at 'heel-and-toe' than he did as a consistent, wholehearted club runner. Between 1949 and 195 I trained (twice per week) and raced with Alex. He was a stylish performer who never troubled the judges. In the annual 7 Miles' match between Essex Beagles and Ilford we raced in the 1949/1950 competitions : 1949 5th Alec 61.58, 12th Colin 72.13. 1950 3rd Alec 60.44, 11th Colin 65.28. The course was the demanding circuit via Lambourne End, Abridge and Chigwell Row finishing outside the Ilford clubhouse. Our last race together was at Cricklefields track over 2 miles (19/6/51) when Colin was 3rd (16.27) and Alec 7th (17.07). With his clubmates Centurion 293 Reg Bond (retiring), Len Williams (emigrating), Jim Foster (turning to running) and Norman Alderman (retiring) Alec concentrated on running in a competitive squad led by the indomitable Alan Perkins.
Alec made us very welcome when we first joined Ilford A.C. We have fond memories & much respect for him. May he rest in peace from Jimmy Huddart & The Market Boys.
Sad news indeed.A man rich in care ,enthusiasm ,helpfulness etc etc.Welcoming and advising all those he came in contact with for the benefit of athletics as a whole and the individual.I was happy to be associated with him during my time with Ilford A.C.
It was the combination of Alec Tiffin and Frank Heaney (Good Cop, Bad Cop) who persuaded me to join Ilford Ac instead of Woodford Green.I really enjoyed his company for his wit and broad knowledge. I only wish more people were like him in this day and age.
valerie and Chris Surety
We also remember Alec as a very special person. Always caring and supportive of the athletes. Another member joining the club over the rainbow.
A true gentleman and a lovely man. R.I.P
I remember when I first joined the club as a young athlete and was attending the club but for long Sunday runs. He was also talkative and made you feel welcome. May he rest in peace
It's always sad to hear such news. In the time I knew Alec, he was always and without fail one of those exceptionally positive people, both interesting to talk to and interested in hearing about other athletes' exploits. Highly knowledgeable too. Fondly remembered. RIP.
The club has lost a true gentle man. For those club members too young to have had the benefit and pleasure of knowing Alec, he a rare breed who epitomised human kindness and selflessness. Totally loyal to the needs of the club and it`s members , with little comprehension as to the high regard we had for him. Gone now but his influence will stay with many of us for years to come.
A true gentleman of the sport.All i have is good memories of Alec as a young Member of the club and remember all the encouragement and positive attitude he gave to everybody.Rest in peace
Colin and Margaret Fox
Thanks for keeping up in the loop re the sad news about Alec, a truelly nice gentleman.
Really sad news such a nice man and Club legend he will be sorely missed
Really sad news such a nice man and Club legend he will be sorely missed
Having read the comments from Dave I feel that I must mention that Alec, during the 60's was a very successful coach to the junior and youth running squad devoting so much of his time to their success. It was during one of his training sessions around South Park that he encouraged me to take up race walking which lead to the reforming of the walking section in the sixties. Ilford were blessed with the very loyal support that Alex gave to all sections of the club. He will be truly missed.
Club stalwart, life member (60 years+ a member), former club secretary and all round Mr nice guy. Will be sadly missed by all those he coached and mentored in the 50's and 60's.
Alec Tiffin. An archetypal Ilford athlete....light and dark blue blood, unswerving loyalty, unfailing good humour, unstinting labour....so many years of club service through thick and thin. His only concern was the welfare of I.A.C. and its' athletes. A man that it was a delight to be with . Rest in peace.
Ilford Athletic Club are mourning the death of one of their true stawlarts, Alec Tiffin (87) , a member for over 60 years who passed away over the weekend. Mr.Tiffin was active throughout the Club, being responsible with the late Reg Bond (Centurions No.293) in reigniting Ilford's Walking Section during 1950. Alec was a classy race walker, but his real effort throughout the '50s and beyond was running - which attracted Alec who appeared both in road and cross-county events. He was a tireless official, serving as a most efficient Honorary Secretary from 1969-to-75. Alec enjoyed running and could be seen around Hainault Forest into his 80s. Hornchurch resident Mr.Tiffin was also a talented artist who regularly attended the town's Fairkytes Arts Centre, and in an exhibition at the Queen's Theatre in 2014 featuring the best local amateurs' works, had 2 paintings on display. One of his paintings was of the late Fred Plumm. He was popular and supported the Club's many functions and was highly liked and regarded by all he met.
A funeral service is to be held at Upminster Crematorium , Corbeys Tey on Tuesday 29th November at 11.20 a.m.