NEW YEAR HONOURS: Mile End community sports volunteer Alfred Vickers gets the Empire Medal
PUBLISHED: 22:30 29 December 2017 | UPDATED: 03:07 30 December 2017
An athletics trainer awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Years’ Honours for services to community sport at Mile End stadium is calling for “badly needed investment” to get East End youngsters fit.
Alfred Vickers believes Tower Hamlets is “a poor area for child fitness”—despite the legacy of being a ‘host’ borough for the 2012 London Olympics.
“There’s not enough work done in primary schools to get pupils fit through sport,” he told the East London Advertiser.
“Children sent to the stadium by primary schools run round the track once—then just walk.
“It’s terrible. That should be addressed with at least £20 million investment to modernise the stadium, which hasn’t been upgraded in 50 years.”
The 74-year-old community volunteer from Bethnal Green is one of 11 Londoners awarded the BEM in the Queen’s Honours List.
He has “made a tremendous difference to the young people of Tower Hamlets for nearly 50 years”, the citation reads.
Alfred first started St Matthew’s parish boys’ football club in Bethnal Green back in 1966. His daughter joined Tower Hamlets Athletics Club in 1982 and he stepped in to start coaching when he found there was no training structure in place.
He became chairman until the club merged in 2005 with Victoria Park Harriers when he took on the role of managing the women’s and the young athletes’ teams.
Alfred was also involved with developing and running Mile End athletics track and helped Tower Hamlets Council persuade the US Olympics track and field team to be based there for the 2012 Games.
He has now written to the Mayor of Tower Hamlets calling for urgent spending on the stadium.
“It needs ripping down and rebuilding,” he adds. “The stand is 50 years old.
“The track is one of the busiest in the country, with up to 80 people every Saturday using it.
“Hosting the Olympics was of no consequence. There’s been no investment at Mile End for decades, apart from the new track the US team put in as their payment for training here.”
The track was renewed in 2012 which Alfred deems “acceptable”—it’s the rest of the stadium he says “needs urgent attention”.
He suggests adding indoor training facilities and replacing the nine “unsightly containers” at one end where all the sports training equipment is stored.