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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Lorna Allchurch - one of the first women to win a Bay Sheffield race, dies at the age of 98

Lorna Allchurch - one of the first women to win a Bay Sheffield race, dies at the age of 98

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Lorna Allchurch crosses the final finish line

By Greg Mayfield
Port Pirie Recorder
10 Oct 2016

Lorna May Allchurch, who died last month aged 98, was one of the best athletes ever produced in Port Pirie.

Family friend and former parliamentarian Ron Roberts said in an eulogy that Mrs Allchurch had been a year and 137 days short of her century birthday.

He said she and her late husband Basil had a son Colin, seven grandchildren, seven great-great grandchildren and two great-great-great grandchildren.

Mrs Allchurch was born in Port Pirie and the Lutheran Church was part of her upbringing of no swearing, no alcohol, no smoking and to love your neighbour and others, a creed which she obeyed all her life.

She attended Solomontown Primary School and Port Pirie High School, excelling at table tennis, badminton, croquet, netball, hockey, golf, sprinting, high jump and tennis.

She won the 1936 and 1937 North Western handicap tennis singles titles in Port Pirie. At one stage, she competed in nine sports.

Running was her strength and she had trophies to prove it. There were no school sports in 1931 and in 1932 because of a drought so the youngster kept fit by skipping. She won the sports day cup in 1933 and 1934.

Remarkably, at the age of 14 years, she won the state 50-yard professional senior sprint championship at Norwood Oval on Christmas day in 1932.

It was the first of seven state titles over 50, 75 and 100 yards, She won the Bay Sheffield 75-yard handicap at Glenelg in 1932.

There was very little training and no such thing as diets, exercise and fitness programs.

In 1933, the City of Port Pirie presented her with a blue sash, for the honour she gave the city, and she had a day off school.

To her disappointment, she could not try out for the Olympics because she was classified as a professional athlete.

On a hot February afternoon in 1939, she met Basil Allchurch, accomplished bike rider and rifle shooter.

They married in 1940, but, after only 13 months of married life, Mr Allchurch enlisted and was away for four years with the couple seeing each other only twice in this time – this being the sole time they were separated.

Mr Allchurch returned from the war to join the family butcher shop at Crystal Brook and then to Port Pirie with his brothers Max, Aubury and his father Douglass. Mrs Allchurch was later involved with the Bonney’s shop.

She never shot a rifle, but she was dedicated to the sport.

Mr and Mrs Allchurch were Port Pirie`s most talented sports couple.

Mrs Allchurch would often say, “no-one has had a better life than I have – it has just been wonderful, absolutely wonderful”, but she was a little sad that she had not written a book about her life.

What a book it would have been!

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