Major John Leaning – 1937 – 2019
This morning I was deeply saddened to hear that a good friend of mine and of English skiing, John ‘Spud’ Leaning died peacefully on Saturday 3rd August.
Our Nordic members will remember Spud as Biathlon & Nordic Director at the British Ski Federation and later for his roles in forming both the International Biathlon Union (IBU) and as a founding Board Member of the British Biathlon Union in 1996. Spud also held positions in the International Ski Federation (FIS) and the British Paralympic Association. He also managed GB Teams at the 1988,1992 and 1994 Olympic Winter Games.
My association with Spud began just after he had represented Great Britain at the 1968 Olympics at Grenoble where he competed in the Biathlon.
He and his lovely wife Gay, who sadly died in 2002, invited me to stay with them, near Richmond in North Yorkshire, whilst he was developing the small indoor ski slope at Catterick Army Camp. Spud was one Englands, (then as NSFGB) first artificial Slope Ski Instructors (ASSI).
His imagination and initiative, alongside his enthusiasm and expertise were vital elements in the development of the Yorkshire and Humberside Ski Federation. He also prepared other army and local civilian members of Catterick Ski Club to run and staff the facility after he was required to move on to another ‘posting.
Spud and Gay were among the most gentle and kind people I have ever met and I would like to express my gratitude for Spud’s pioneering work in developing our sport in England and to pass my condolences, through Snowsport England, to their sons David and Tom.
Hon Life Member
7th August 2019