A RUNNING club has paid tribute their former secretary who was "dedicated to the sport of athletics".

Gwen Goodwin, the former secretary at Darlington Harriers and Athletic Club, died last weekend at the age of 98.

She was the wife of the late Bert Goodwin, who was the former president of the Harriers, and started working at the club back in the 1940s.

Ian Barnes, who has been at the club for more than 40 years, described her as a "very friendly and good hearted woman".

Mr and Mrs Goodwin met in 1939 and they were married in 1942 at St John's Church in Darlington and they spent their honeymoon in Scotland.

When the Second World War ended, Mr Goodwin worked to re-form the Darlington Harriers Athletic Club and become its president, as well as a qualified British Amateur Athletics coach.

He wrote a regular column in the sport section of The Northern Despatch, a former sister paper of The Northern Echo, and encouraged many world-class athletes to visit the area to compete.

Mrs Goodwin shared her husband's passion for sport and in 1948 helped to start the first women's athletics club in Darlington.

In 1972 the couple moved to South Africa where they lived for nine years.

Mrs Goodwin's time as club secretary coincided with the success of Darlington-born athlete Joy Grieveson.

The 400 metre runner won a silver medal at the 1962 European Athletics Championships in Belgrade, having taken a week's leave from work to compete.

She also represented Great Britain in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and was one of the favourites, but a hamstring injury hampered her chances and she bowed out in the semi-final.

Mr Barnes said: "Gwen was a very friendly and good heart woman - she was dedicated to the sport of athletics.

"She was associated with the club for many years – she started in the 1940s and was ladies' secretary in the 1950s and 1960s.

"The outstanding achievement of the club at the time was undoubtedly the success of Joy Grieveson, and Gwen contributed to that.

"It was a time when the 800m was the furthest you could run on the track, so the focus of the club was on the sprint events and the field events.

For more information about the club, visit www.darlingtonharriers.co.uk