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Orinteering History at King Henry VIII by Ted Norrish
In September 1965, Ted Norrish, Classics master at our school from 1959, and head of department from 1972 to 1987, competed in one of the first Orienteering events to be held in Britain, on the South Downs. He finish seventh out of about one hundred runners, ahead of Olympic athletes, such as Gordon Pirie and Bruce Tulloh; and enjoyed the event so much that he decided to form a Henry’s orienteering club. He then invited those who might be interested, and the following week took a small group to our first training introductory event in Sutton Park. Among them were four Henry’s pupils who went on to achieve distinction:
Robin Harvey, who was awarded the OBE for making the maps of the first world orienteering championships held in Britain, at Aviemore in 1976.
Richard Haw, who was elected treasurer of the newly form British Orienteering Federation after he left our school.
John Walker, who later left for Australia, introduced there the sport of Orienteering – founding the Red Rhoos, to be a brother club to the Octavian Droobers.
Bob Brandon, who has held the OD together from 1965 to this day – as competitor, equipment officer, event organiser, map drawer, vetter, coach, and chairman; the great successes of our pupils today at home and at international level would not have been possible without his commitment through all these years.
The Henry’s Orienteering club was one of the first clubs to be formed in Britain, and probably the second schools’ club. In November’ 65 our boys were entered in the Midland Championships in Mortimer Forest, near Ludlow; and for this event Ted Norrish and Hugh Allan (an English master, who later introduced the sport of orienteering in Washington DC) decided on the club’s name - Octavian Droobers (OD). At these championships the club achieved its first successes – John Walker and Greg Thompson, competing as a pair, won the junior event, and also the club won the team event – a very successful start for our school club.
Geoff Courtois (PE and English master) helped with transport and decided to compete as well - soon achieving some success. In Spring’66 Ted and Geoff organize our club’s first small event in Wappenbury wood, where competitors from Coventry and Warwickshire Schools were invited to take part, and gradually the word was spread. In the summer of 1966 Bob, Peter and Sheila Carey, the Olympic athlete, were invited to an event on Cannock Chase to be our first outside members. The same year Robin Harvey and John Walker (as juniors), and Ted Norrish were selected to represent GB at Ronneby in Sweden. In1968Ted competed and represented GB over the severe course of the 24 km mountain ‘Fjell-lunken’ in North Norway.
In the early seventies our school club had two English schools’ champions - Gerald Van Hee, and Mark Holliday. In the World Championships of 1976 a Henry’s orienteer and fell-runner, Peter Haines, was selected to represent GB juniors, and he ran extremely well. In July, the junior World Championships will be held in Bulgaria, in Borovez; and his daughter Florence has a good chance of being selected for GB, and Ted hopes to be there to cheer her on. It is certain there will also be some ODs competing and perhaps some from Henry’s, too.
Our club has long been acknowledged to be one of the leading clubs in Britain, with a reputation for staging well organized first-class Midland and National orienteering events, and we are all proud that Henry’s pupils have achieved recently international successes.
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