Adrian Barnes

Published: 11 Oct 2020

Time spent at school: 1962-1969

Date passed away: 24th September 2020

Adrian was a pioneer in the orienteering community who contributed to the development and staging of the sport from the start of his involvement whilst at Godalming Grammar, and throughout his life. Adrian had started Orienteering in the autumn of 1966, but he quickly developed map reading and terrain running skills, such that he won the first British Junior Championships on 16th October 1967 at the Forest of Dean, and was a leading junior in the sport – in his final year winning both the British Under 18 and Under 21 Championship events.

Adrian was a pupil at Godalming Grammar School (1962-1969) and was also proficient at Cricket, Soccer, Chess and a keen member of the Debating Society and of course Captain of the Orienteering team; Adrian was instrumental in developing Orienteering at Godalming – instructing on Wednesday afternoon training sessions in the woods nearby. Orienteering had only started as a sport in the early 60’s, with the first events in Surrey in 1965, and Adrian’s capabilities were such that he was soon involved in staging of events, at the young age of 15 assisting the Olympic Steeplechase athlete Chris Brasher (who founded the London Marathon) with one of the first annual Orienteering events ( the ‘JK’ festival) now held every Easter. The course in 1967 was around Waggoners Well, near Hindhead. Adrian, Brian Bullen and Martin Brown from Godalming joined forces with members of the Eggar’s Grammar school (Jim Knight, Rik Plumb, Tony Ford and Mike Smith) to form the Combined Harvesters club (CH). The CH club was the first Non-Scandinavian team to compete at the Swedish Tio-Mila night relay in the spring of 1976. Subsequently they organised an annual night relay event, at a different part of the country each year, until in the mid-80’s the event was hosted by other clubs (as the CH club members started to disperse and pursue careers to far corners not just of the UK , but worldwide).

Adrian studied Chemical Engineering at Swansea University, and started the Orienteering club there, also contributing to the formation of the Swansea Bay Orienteering club in 1972. Adrian’s enthusiasm saw the Swansea University team sending a dozen members to the 1971 BUSF (now BUCS) Championships at distant Stirling in central Scotland. Adrian collaborated with Brian on the first multicolour map in Wales, Margam Forest at 1:20,000, 7m, for the 1972 Welsh Championships, which we co-planned/organised and Martin Hyman (former Godalming Master) controlled (refereed).

After graduating (1972) he worked first in Newport, and in 1975 moved to Morpeth and worked until his retirement in 2012 for Rio Tinto Alcan in Lynemouth as Computer Manager. The mid 70’s saw Adrian on the one hand reaching World Class as a competitor, competing for GBR at the 1978 World Championships in Kongsberg, Norway (Classic 38th), but also contributing to the staging of events. He was Planner for the June 1976 William Younger International event in Northumberland, Classic Event, one of the international events leading up to the 1976 World Championships hosted by the British Federation at Darnaway Forest, Scotland. Adrian’s competitive strength lay in his technical skills in map-reading and terrain running, and was a very confident at Night-O, being runner-up and then winner in the first two British Night Championships of ’78 and ’79. Soon after moving to Morpeth, Adrian joined the Morpeth Harriers athletic club, and contributed to the staging of athletic, cross county and other running events, but he was also very active in coaching youngsters and was taking training groups onto the roads of Morpeth until late in 2019…

He was remembered as a reliable organiser, an encourager of young people and a thoroughly nice man. In 1985 he was persuaded to join what was to become the Newcastle and Tyneside Orienteering club (NaTO) where he contributed much to the staging of events, particularly in mapping many areas and contributing to the running of the club. Adrian had a vision that Orienteering would be a sport for all, and as NaTOs’ Chairman (2013— 2017) promoted their Saturday league of local events for participation by the local community. He was instrumental as NaTO fixtures Secretary in encouraging the club to be more adventurous, taking on the 2014 British Championships, where he took a leading role in Planning and contributing to the mapping, but also other events such as the 2018 Mixed Sprint Relays and Morpeth Fair, and the British Schools Score Championships and many others. NaTO won through to the final of the National ‘CompassSport’ Club championships in 2015, with Adrian putting in an excellent performance on his age-group course (just a few minutes behind the winner) on the fast-open moorland above Kendal. Adrian was dogged by health set-backs in later years, and had to miss officiating at the annual JK Festival in 2016 when it was held in Northumberland, but returned to activities and was instrumental in the staging of the Junior Home International (Autumn 2016) based at Morpeth, mapping and planning the courses. Adrian was active with the Morpeth Lions charity – including raising funds by cycling the 100Mile London-Surrey charity event in 2014 (the course based on the 2012 Olympic route). Adrian’s death is a tragic loss to Anna, his wife of 44 years who he married in July 1976, and family, friends and the Morpeth Community, Morpeth Harriers, NaTO, as well as the wider Orienteering community.

With acknowledgements to the contributors to Adrian’s obituary published in the October 2020 ‘CompassSport’ magazine, from Morpeth Harriers, Newcastle and Tyneside Orienteering club, former Teacher Martin Hyman, former members of Combined Harvesters and other Orienteering friends. Brian Bullen with thanks particularly to CompassSport Editor Nick Barrable.