Tributes paid to inspirational sporting legend and former councillor

John Newsome.

John Newsome.

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A sporting legend and life-long public servant who was dedicated to his many roles in the community has died.

John Newsome was a successful athlete who inspired countless children as a teacher and served as a hard working councillor. He died last Friday after a stroke, aged 74.

Mr Newsome, a Wakefield Express community correspondent of more than 10 years, lived in Netherton for more than four decades with his wife Wendy, 70.

He is also survived by sons John, 49, and Michael, 48, and three grandchildren.

He and Wendy met as children and were married for more than 50 years.

Mr Newsome won a scholarship to QEGs school and trained as a teacher at Westminster College, Oxford. There, he captained cross country and athletic teams.

He joined Wakefield Harriers and went on to compete for Yorkshire and as a marathon runner for Great Britain.

Mr Newsome, also a Methodist preacher, was club president when he died and chairman of Sitlington Parish Council.

Wendy Newsome said: “He was such an inspiration. He was a very modest man but achieved so much. It’s only when you look back you realise that you realise how much he achieved.”

Mr Newsome, a life-long Wakefield Trinity fan, taught in Kettlethorpe, Wrenthorpe and at Netherton J&I School, where he was deputy head. He was active in the National Union of Teachers and a school governor.

At Netherton he ran the school chess team, which went six years unbeaten in Yorkshire competitions.

He volunteered for the St John Ambulance, which awarded him the honour of Serving Brother.

His athletic achievements included leading the Great Britain team to victory in the Ultava Marathon in Prague.

He was 1968 Wakefield Sportsman of the Year and in 2007 got a Lifetime Achievement in Sport award in the Wakefield and District Sports Awards.

Michael Newsome said: “He was tremendously driven in everything that he did.”

Mr Newsome was on Sitlington Parish Council for more than 40 years and was a district Labour councillor for eight years.

John Newsome Jr added: “He thought nothing of helping others. When he was a district councillor he’d even get phone calls on Christmas day.”

The family thanked staff at Pinderfields Hospital for the care Mr Newsome received.

A funeral will be held at West Wakefield Methodist Church at noon on Thursday, September 29, then Wakefield Crematorium at 1pm. Donations to the stroke unit at Pinderfields Hospital will be welcome.

Former Wakefield MP David Hinchliffe said: “I can think of few people who have given more to their local community during their life than John Newsome, as he was active in so many organisations.”

Peter Young, of Wakefield Harriers, said: “John was part of the bedrock of the club. He was always there, organising events, inspiring the youngsters and presenting awards as president.”