Letter from Sir Roger Bannister gifted to Horsham Museum

Cliff Comber holding the letter he received from Sir Roger Bannister
Cliff Comber holding the letter he received from Sir Roger Bannister

A Horsham runner said he was ‘elated’ to receive a response from Sir Roger Bannister after writing to the legendary athlete.

Cliff Comber, 65, was reading a biography of Sir Roger, entitled ‘Four Minute Mile’ after his most famous achievement, when he noticed a mention of Horsham runner Alfred Shrubb.

Shrubb broke a number of world records in the early 20th century, with the book noting Sir Roger adopted some of Shrubb’s training methods.

Cliff, a Shrubb enthusiast, wrote to Sir Roger, 85, and promptly received a reply, which he has donated to Horsham Museum.

Sir Roger said: “He (Shrubb) was a great runner, ahead of his time in many ways.”

Cliff said: “I thought he would reply because he is a gentleman, but I didn’t think he would reply within a couple of days.

“I was elated really, he has always been a hero of mine.”

Cliff has arranged for a blue plaque in honour of Shrubb to be placed on the building of the Anchor Hotel in Horsham town centre, where the runner lived.

Jeremy Knight, curator of Horsham Museum, said: “The letter from Sir Roger makes Alfred Shrubb’s story contemporary enabling the story of Shrubb to resonate with today’s runners.

“Just as horses have pedigrees and blood lines that stretch back over the centuries, so Sir Roger who inspired future generations was inspired by Alfred, a Slinfold born, West Street tobacconist who shook the world of Edwardian running.”

Cliff organises an annual race, which will take place on October 26 this year in Slinfold.

The Alf Shrubb Memorial 5 starts at 11am and is open to men, women and children.

To enter, email harriers24@gmail.com