The Fairway Athletics Centre in Sandown could be renamed in honour of a popular Island coach to ensure his legacy lives on.

Ray Scovell, who was a community development officer for the Isle of Wight Council’s Sports Unit, passed away in January 2021 at the age of 76, after battling COVID-19.

Following a request by Isle of Wight Athletics Club, Cabinet members will consider renaming the centre the Ray Scovell Athletics Centre when they meet next Thursday (13 January).

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One of the best-known sporting figures on the Island, Ray had been the coach at the club for more than 30 years. He founded the Medina Parkrun and Junior Parkrun. He also started the fun in athletics sessions for younger children to develop their love of athletics and fitness.

In 2011, he was the Island Games coordinator when the event was held on the Island. In 2014, he picked up Isle of Wight Radio’s Volunteer of the Year award before receiving an Isle of Wight Sports Achievement Award in 2017 for service to sports on the Isle of Wight.

He was best known for teaching himself field event coaching and trained several Island sporting stars, including hammer thrower Andy Frost and Island Games medal winners, Amy Clarke and Wallis Canning. He also coached Stephen Duff, who won gold and silver medals at the World Fire and Police Games in the US.

With his support, Isle of Wight Athletics Club and the Fairway track facility soon became one of the largest in the south, which in turn resulted in many Island athletes securing county, national and international accolades.

Councillor Julie Jones-Evans, Cabinet member for regeneration, business development and tourism, said:

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“Changing the track centre’s name to the Ray Scovell Athletics Centre would be a fitting tribute to a man who has helped and supported so many budding athletes over the years.

“I am honoured to bring this proposal before Cabinet and to pay tribute to a man who has been so inspiring to Islanders of all ages, not least his work on the Primary School Island Games and the World Island Youth Games, during his time at the council.”

Consultation with his family, Isle of Wight Athletics Club, Sandown Town Council and the community has been unanimous in support of the name change.

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