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The Late Eric Culpan

Fourth finisher in modern Parish Walk passes away just months before 50th anniversary

Eric Culpan was born in Manchester ninety five years ago last August, and was involved in printing his entire working career, writes Graham Young.  After his move to the Island in 1955, he was responsible for passing on his significant knowledge to many of our current journalists and printers.

He passed away peacefully in the late hours of Tuesday 17 November, a fighter to the end.

My first privilege of meeting Eric was whilst walking together on the climb up the Clannagh Road in the 1960 Parish.  I can still distinctly picture the pattern on the toes of his brown “brogue” shoes. He was still wearing the grey flannel trousers that he had also worn that working day at the Isle Of Man Times printshop.

I am not sure after nearly fifty years just where we parted company, but I guess my slow time to Patrick was ahead of his.   I was surprised to hear later that despite walking extra miles “Down the north” he finished the full distance without distress. (24 hours, 20 minutes)

A naive 14 years old learnt that day the most basic of lessons.  That, if you keep walking long enough… you will finish!!

Eric was from that generation of modest gentlemen, who simply did their duty without complaint. For “Operation Market Garden” Eric, literally, was put on a crash course as a glider pilot.  This meant promotion to sergeant, as few were expected to survive! The expectation was that their widows would therefore qualify for larger pensions.

Captured at Arnhem, he survived the mass RAF bombing of Dresden in February 1945 as, fortunately, he was at the railway station, normally the target of such raids.  Revised estimates by the German government indicate that no fewer than 25,000 civilians perished there over three days of attacks.

I once asked him if the Parish was the furthest he had walked.  He replied that five weeks after the soviets took over the POW camp in Poland in which he was a German captor in 1945, he was released, and obliged to walk to Germany!

In 1970, through no fault of his own, Eric and his wife Freda were involved in a horrific car accident at Baldromma Crossing, Baldrine.  His mother Lotte was tragically killed, and he and Freda sustained severe injuries which resulted in months of hospitalisation for them both.  Sadly, Eric was left with one leg shorter than the other.

An unassuming man, he felt most honoured when asked to be the Parish Walk Guest Starter whilst nearing ninety years of age.  I believe he was the first person to be granted this accolade.  He previously had played a similar role in starting a T.T.Relay Walk in recognition of his pioneering achievements in race walking.

Eric was essentially a family man, so you may imagine his delight at grandson Dave Whorrall’s six successful Parish finishes.

Eric’s interests included aeroplanes and cricket.  As part of his 90th birthday celebrations he watched England play the West Indies at Old Trafford with grandson Steven Whorrall.

May I presume on behalf of the athletic fraternity to express very sincere condolences to all his family and friends.  He leaves much loved daughters Jackie and Judy, five Grandchildren and eight Great Grandchildren.

The funeral takes place on Thursday 26 November at 11:00 at Kirk Braddan.

Donations may be made to The Parkinson’s Disease Society, if wished.  Eric’s late wife Freda had been a sufferer.


Graham Young, as he says is the obituary, took part in the first of the modern day Parish Walks in 1960 at the age of 14.  In 1971, in the closest ever finish when he beat Derek Harrison by just 54 seconds, he set the record which lasted for 8 years.  

Although he is one of just five athletes to have broken a Parish Walk record, he only made one further serious attempt at the event when he won 1992.  We’ll never know just how much faster he could have gone in the years between but what we do know is that he finished 4th in the 1974 Commonwealth Games 20 miles and won the 1981 British 100km title in what remains the second best ever by a British walker. He still holds the Manx record at that distance along with the Manx 50km track walking record.



Graham is pictured at the TT Grandstand in 1980 by the late Gwelda Lambden after the TT Course walk, an event in which he also broke the record and remains the second fastest.



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