Ribble Valley Harriers was initially formed from a splinter group which descended from Blackburn Harriers & AC in the late 1970’s. Coached by George Wrathall, it was a club set up to harness local junior talent which included the likes of Shaun Livesey, Debra Hammond, Michelle Wrathall, Carol Dewhurst, Susan Dewhurst, Mick Rung and Gary Stansfield to name but a few. Sadly, only this one generation of keen youngsters would run under the wing of George before the club’s short-lived existence drew to an unfortunate close.
However in the mid-1980’s, the name of Ribble Valley Harriers briefly returned to prominence again when one of the original members, Shaun Livesey, was establishing himself at senior level as one of the best fell runners in the country. Shaun spent a year or so racing as a lonesome Ribble Valley Harrier after discovering that the club was still legitimate by the default of an account still paying funds in to the relevant governing bodies.
The second coming of Ribble Valley Harriers would have to wait over thirty years in 2016 when, in the spirit of Shaun, Chris Barnes re-registered the club’s name and also ran as a Ribble Valley solo act for a year. Going in to 2017 and Chris had been coaching training sessions with a small group of competitive ladies from various clubs. After an initial piloting at the Lee Mill Relay in Rossendale, they formed a team and by February of that year had become new members of the club which was then launched officially at the Parbold Hill Race. Additional members spanning from over three different counties were announced with Helen Glover, Kirtsy Hall, Caitlin Rice and Louisa Powell-Smith now on the books. More big signings soon followed with Katie Walshaw and Nichola Jackson further strengthening the team. Josh Boyle was the first male to join Chris, and a distinguished one at that. Then a few more men, including the original, fell running champion and legend that is Shaun Livesey. Shaun accepted honorary membership and is now the Club President. By the beginning of 2018 the club’s total membership had grown to just shy of twenty.
It’s mainly about the ladies though – a small and yet tremendous team who have quickly developed in to big hitters at major championships.