George Bunner MBE
George Bunner MBE – The Sportshall Athletics Creator
George Bunner was born in the City of Liverpool in 1932 and despite a difficult start, losing his father at an early age, George became a promising athlete as a member of Liverpool Harriers. He worked his way through night school and college to become a Chartered Electrical Engineer and eventually Managing Director of one of the largest electrical contractors in the North West of England.
As an athlete George reached a high point in 1950 when he became English AAA Junior 880 yards Champion before foreign travel curtailed his running career. George suffered the tragic loss of his wife in a car crash in 1968 that also left him severely injured and a single parent of their two infant sons. In 1971 he married his present wife Sheila and the couple had a baby daughter. Having fought back from his injuries, he rekindled his interest in athletics and with some friends decided to form an athletic club in his hometown of Frodsham, Cheshire. Realising that traditional track and field would not suit the primary school aged children in his charge, George set about creating what has now become known as “Sportshall Athletics”. The Sportshall programme has evolved over the years and now forms a major part of the Athletics component of the National Schools Competition Framework.
The Sportshall Athletics creator has always been keen to stress the support he has gained from his friend Ron Pickering and his business partner George Uren who joined the team in 1982. He has also been keen to ensure that all Sportshall Athletes are given the right values.
The Sportshall programme provides a highly enjoyable way for young people to try running, jumping and throwing activities as their first steps into athletics. It gives children their first taste of fun and excitement of track and field events in a safe environment, often in areas where the lack of facilities or the weather prevents traditional outdoor activity. Following up on this success, an outdoor programme has been created.
The programmes emphasise the importance of team competition and fair play and the fact that taking part and trying your hardest is more important than winning alone. Above all, Sportshall Athletics is an activity that can bring together children from across the globe in competition and friendship.
George, now recognised as a leading international authority in the development of children’s athletics, left the engineering profession in 1992 to work full-time in a voluntary capacity and now at 80 years old, has no plans to retire. He can still be found in his office every day developing his programmes and satisfying his passion for athletics. George received the MBE for services to athletics in 2002.