I was at Glenmore Lodge and saw the old certificate of Eric Beard (1931-69), simply ‘Beardie’ to thousands of climbers, hill-walkers,skiers and children, was killed in a motor accident on 16 November 1969. Partly, he will be remembered for his amazing feats of speed and stamina amongst the British mountains, but much more for his rare ability to entertain, to make people laugh and happy in his company
Upstairs in the wall in Glenmore Lodge is a certificate about Eric Beard. Beardie as he was known was a wonderful character and was involved in many records in fell running on the mountains. He used to wear “pumps or sandshoes” no fell running gear in these days. He loved the mountains and was so well-known in the 60’s in the mountains. His times are incredible!
Eric Beard (1931-69), simply ‘Beardie’ to thousands of climbers, hill-walkers,
skiers and children, was killed in a motor accident on 16 November. Partly, he
will be remembered for his amazing feats of speed and stamina amongst the
British mountains, but much more for his rare ability to entertain, to make
people laugh and happy in his company.
His record feats speak for themselves: the Welsh Three Thousanders (five
hours nineteen minutes), the Skye Ridge (four hours nine minutes), the four
Cairngorm tops (four hours forty-one minutes), the incredible Lakeland
twenty-four-hour run (fifty-six summits, eighty-eight miles, 33,000 ft of ascent
and descent). Primed on honey butties and hot sweet tea, he remained fleet of
foot to the end, for shortly before his death in 1969 he had run from Ben Nevis to
Snowdon, taking in Scafell on the way; this to be followed by his run from
John o’Groats to Lands End with variations—-844 miles in eighteen days and
a few hours.
A Yorkshireman born in Leeds he had left school at fourteen with little in the
way of formal education and small, weak and puny in physique. After a
succession of jobs, including that of a jockey, he ended up working as a Leeds
tram conductor, and was voted number one in a poll for courtesy and cheerfulness by the travelling public. By one of those coincidences which are the turning-point in any life, he started to run at the age of twenty-four when involved in a bet with his tram driver, a former athlete of note. The long-distance bug bit him, and gradually he built up physique and stamina by rigorous training, dedicated as only the marathon man knows how to be.
Quickly he built up his experience as a mountaineer, though he never wished to
be or was an extreme rock climber. On visits to the Alps he found himself
keenest on, and bestsuited to, long mixed climbs such as the Frontier ridge, the
Old Brenva, and the Zmutt, but he could make a hard rock route when occasion
demanded, as ascents of the Sudverschneidung of the Fleischbank East, the
North face of the Cima Grande and the Piz Badile North-east face prove.
Though most effacing about his climbing record, recognition of his ability was
made by his acceptance as an A.C.G. member. Though, typically, Beardie
inferred that this must have been by mistake!
Beardie was dedicated, besides running, to helping backward or deprived
youngsters: a genius with children, he had that same kind of essential simplicity
which is usually only the child’s. He gave his time freely and brought his athletic
prowess to any children’s charitable work which asked him. Shortly before his
death he ran from Leeds to Downing Street for the Save the Children Fund to
help raise money and publicise its work, and a few days after his death he was to
have made an attempt on the world twenty-four-hour track record. Once
again money raised was to go to children’s charities. He was at the peak of his
form and would have done his best ever with such an incentive.
I wish I had met this man, what a character, what a man. It is great to remember such people.
This was from an email from Peter Wright sent in March 2015
“I knew Eric as a friend no an inspiration having bunked with him many times on my visits to Glenmore Lodge. He was truly a larger than life character in spite of his small stature but he had the biggest heart and a devilish sense of humour. I reckon he invented the ice bucket challenge way back in 1968 when he tenderly awakened me from a warm and restful slumber with a bucket of fresh snow because it was 6.30 and he said if he was awake then so should I be. A manic ten minutes of laughter and snowballs down pants ensued before calm was returned to the dorm. Turning up at my flat in Birmingham because he was on his way back up north was another trick which always ended up in a night of singing and story telling rather than lesson planning for the following day but far more enjoyable it was too.
His sad death left the world a poorer place for his passing and those of us who knew and loved him, not for his incredible achievements but just for being the sincere and genuine person he was, had memories of a unique and remarkable friend whose like we will not see again.”
Thanks Peter for keeping “Beardies” Memories alive!