Dennis Lace


Manx Harriers 
Fell Running 
IOM Veterans 


DENNIS LACE 1922 - 2003

LACE. On Monday, March 10, 2003, peacefully surrounded by his family at St. Bridget’s Hospice, Henry Dennis aged 80 years of Maynrys, 6 Laureston Close, Douglas. Much loved husband of Betty, dearest father and pal of Peter, loving grandad of Claire-Louise and James, beloved sister of Olga and dearest father in law of Chris, brother of the late Colonel Winston and the late Selwyn. A service of reception will be held at 6.30pm, on Monday, March 17 at St. Mary’s Church, in Douglas. A requiem mass will be held at 1.15pm on Tuesday, March 18, at St. Mary’s Church, in Douglas, followed by cremation. Family flowers only please. Donations in lieu of flowers, if so desired, may be sent to St Bridget’s Hospice, c/o Mr Collier. All enquiries please to Kingswood Funeral Home, Kingswood Grove, Douglas. Tel 661611


Dennis Lace (right) is pictured with Noel Cringle (now President of Tynwald) at the Boundary Harriers dinner in 1982.

I first met Dennis when I was a mere lad way back in 1966.   I was into running and football (well just about every sport actually) in those days,  but after meeting my mentor and life-time influence,  Albert Johnson,  made the switch to race walking.     It was then where I really got to know him.  

During the mid sixties he was one of the main timekeepers along with Eric Brown (NOW THIS REALLY IS GOING BACK).  He was always enthusiastic about the sport and would turn up in all weathers to either timekeep or judge.   Like the late Kevin Madigan he was always reliable and if he couldn't offer his assistance, you could bet there would be a pretty good reason,  and of course he would let people know he couldn't attend an event the day before. 

A Manxman through and through,  and although very much the old school type,   he was always prepared to move with the times and not stagnate.  On committees,  he was never afraid to speak his mind and ask awkward and uncomfortable questions in order to achieve clarification on certain issues.    Indeed he could prove a very useful friend and ally  at selection time and if he thought there was a case for sending an athlete to the Commonwealth Games,  for example,  he could present his case most passionately.  A thick skin can come in handy.    He was never afraid to take a bit stick enroute.    But he was always approachable and would go the extra mile to help you. 

And rest assured he put the athlete before the official.  Just to quieten the cynics and doubters of that point,  surely forty consecutive years in the sport,  often getting wet and cold and giving  up his family time is a testament to this.   Indeed he carried on helping and giving up his time pretty well up to his 80th birthday.  Nothing was too much trouble to him. 

I can't remember any time before a race he didn't greet me with a "Alright Rob, family OK?"   He would never ignore you and would recognise, praise  and acknowledge any good performance.  

As athletes go we can be a selfish bunch and often forget the work that officials like Dennis have put in throughout the years and indeed Walter is still doing to this very day.    These stalwarts are hard to replace.   I'm sure Colin Halsall, an ex-athlete himself, in particular,  will appreciate this nowadays, being our Chief timekeeper. 

My sympathy to his wife Betty (who no doubt had to put up with alot with Dennis always being out and about) and of course to his son Peter,  who incidentally was a fine race walker during his teens.   Thanks  Dennis to all the time, loyal support and encouragement you have devoted to Manx athletes over forty years.    You have been a good friend and will be sorely missed. 

Robbie Lambie

Dennis as he will be remembered with stopwatch in hand at the old "bowl" course. Here he is timing the man who brought me the sad news on Monday night, Steve Taylor.

On behalf of the Isle of Man Veteran Athletes' Club I wish to say how sorry we are to hear of the sad loss of Denis Lace.

Although he was involved in athletics for many years I only knew him for the last ten years or so. I mainly came into contact with Denis during the Isle of Man Marathon & Half Marathon every August in Ramsey where he always agreed to be our race referee. He always seemed to enjoy himself on the day, meeting friends both old and new. I am sure that at the event this August his cheerful and smiling face will be truly missed. Our thought go out to Betty at this sad time.

Peter Cooper

Also at the "bowl" in 1983 Dennis is timing myself with fellow timekeepers Ian Turnbull (left) and the late Kevin Madigan (right).

Dennis travelled to the 1990 Commonwealth Games as Assistant Team Manager, but also undertook the role of Athletics Manager. I can't comment as to how much help he gave Brenda Walker or Dave Teece, but he certainly worked hard for me during the three or four weeks we were away. The occasion that I best remember, and that sums up Dennis' affable, no-nonsense personality, revolved around a training session. About a week before the 30km race, I was scheduled to do a two hour session on the course. Dennis duely arranged transport to the venue and offered to 'hold the watch'. We set off early on a Saturday morning and arrived at the course before anyone was about. I set off on my first of ten laps, leaving Dennis leaning on the car in the sunshine. When I came past at the end of the lap, the car was empty and there was no sign of him. Next time around, there he was - sitting in a deckchair on the pavement outside a hardware shop. In one hand he had a stopwatch, in the other a cup of tea and in front of him was a neat little table upon which were my drinks. He didn't move throughout the session and on subsequent laps I saw him with various snacks and more cups of tea. It turned out that as soon as I'd started he'd gone into the shop to ask the owner if he could fill my water bottles. The shopkeeper must have been happy to be involved and so 'pushed out the boat' for Dennis during the morning. Dennis introduced me when I'd finished, and the shopkeeper put a hand on my shoulder and said, "Your dad's been telling me all about you and the Isle of Man". The man got me a coke and an ice cream and when we eventually drove away, we had a complimentary New Zealand flag each. A memorable morning with my 'dad' Dennis!

Steve Partington


I have thought about something to write about Dennis trying to remember funny stories and incidents but nothing sprung to mind. I think that this is due to the fact that in the time that I knew him Dennis was always around but never at the forefront, preferring instead to work behind the scenes. He could be relied on to be there, where ever you wanted him doing what ever was asked of him. That said he was certainly one of the main protagonists in getting the club house up and running at the Bowl. The decision to move from the Memorial Hall in Union Mills was not a popular one but Dennis supported it believing that it was best for the athletes, he had nothing to gain from it but he still spent many an hour converting the former mobile classroom into our own club house.

Dennis didn't compete in athletics, he told me that he was a swimmer in his younger days but he still dedicated much of his time to athletics and in particular race walking. He was ever present at Boundary Harriers events when I first started and he was a notable absentee from our events over the last year or so. I don't remember Dennis arguing with anyone, the only time I recall disagreeing with him was in 1986 when he urged me to have another go at achieving the qualifying time for the 30km Commonwealth Games walk. I didn't want to but I did try in the end. He also supported me for inclusion in the 1987 Inter Island games team believing that I was one to produce the goods when it mattered. Along with Betty he always had a good word to say for all athletes, no matter how they felt after the race.  

In latter years conversations between us were more likely to be about his grandchildren and my children, Claire Louise and Callum being in the same class at St. Mary's, and when ever we met he would always ask how they were doing. But race walking was never far away. We would often talk after Mass at St. Josephs Church, Willaston and one Saturday evenings conversation in the summer of 2001 sticks in my mind. We had a party of athletes racing in Dublin and on hearing that Steve Partington had achieved the qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games, he could not contain his excitement.  

He was better known by others who will be able to write a more meaningful passage than I could ever do, he was better loved and and will be sorely missed by them too.

But I knew Dennis and I will miss him.

Steve Taylor



I was very sorry to hear about Dennis - when I took over as race secretary for the vets six years ago I had to contact him several times for help and/or advice, and I was most grateful for his assistance. He will be sorely missed.

Mike Gellion

I welcome any further tributes or pictures of Dennis






copyright (c) 2003 Murray Lambden. All rights reserved.
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