THE funeral of Katie Brough’s coach, Mike Hancock, took place on Tuesday.

His contribution to athletics in Warrington and the region was far reaching, beyond the higher profile achievements of steering the likes of Brough and fellow Warrington Athletics Club runners Karrie Hawitt and Heather Timmins to senior Great Britain vests.

The 74-year-old endurance and fell running coach, who had been a member of the club’s coaching panel since 1996, was equally proud of the hundreds of runners he had expertly observed and guided through their sport, careers and life.

His coaching career started at Neston High School, Wirral, where he was a teacher in the mid 1970s.

Over the past 35 years many clubs were privileged to have Hancock as a coach, including Chester and Ellesmere Port AC (now part of West Cheshire AC), Oswestry Olympians and, most recently, Warrington AC.

Hancock’s greatest coaching achievements included Sally-Ann Hales’ third place and time of 2hrs 28mins 38secs in the 1985 women’s London Marathon, Karrie Hawitt’s gold medal in the Junior World Mountain Running Championships in 2003 and Heather Timmins’ first place in the English Schools’ Cross Country Championships in 2008.

Adam Peers, Jason McGonigal, James Ellis, Alison Patrick, Rachael Jefferson and Kate Titlow were also among the athletes who gained either England or GB vests on his watch.

Warrington Athletics Club officials have said in their reflections this week that he will be much missed by athletes, coaches and the UKA Mountain Running Advisory Group, who have benefited from his knowledge and insight in recent years.