Wodson is Ware Stuart’s heart lies

old photo of man jumping over a hurdle

Standfirst: Legendary athletics commentator Stuart Storey, recognised as a community hero in the King’s Birthday Honours List, is prioritising Wodson Park over Paris 

With a track record of broadcasting on 10 Summer Olympics and four Winters, former international hurdler Stuart Storey is happy to sit the next one out. 

After 44 years as a commentator, Stuart won’t be drawn out of retirement again for the 2024 Games in the French capital. 

He’ll be tuning in from his Ware home for some of the top athletics events from the Stade de France, but his focus will be falling much closer to home. 

Stuart, who turns 82 in September, was awarded an MBE in the recent King’s Birthday Honours List for his services to sport and community. His years commentating on some of history’s greatest sporting achievements contributed in no small part to that recognition. 

But, just as significant as the work Stuart has done over the past 35 years in leading the creation of a top-level sporting and community facility at Wodson Park, Ware, is his dedication to training the next generation of athletes. 

A Deputy Lieutenant of Hertfordshire for a number of years, Stuart said “it was rather nice to be recognised”, by the monarch, but admitted keeping it quiet had been a challenge. 

“I was at a Deputy ieutenants’ lunch at Grove Golf Club after receiving the letter and everybody was there. The Lord Lieutenant knew, of course, as did my wife Shirley, but no-one else did, so it was quite difficult. 

“When it was announced, I received messages from people saying “you keep a good secret, don’t you?’.” 

Stuart first joined the BBC as a commentator after he retired from athletics in 1973. He worked for much of his career alongside the equally legendary commentators Ron Pickering and David Coleman. Stuart always regarded David as his mentor. 

“I learned a lot from David. He taught me about television. I remember him saying to me ‘there’s too much waffle on television. The commentator should say what the picture does not’. And that was good advice. 

“We used to work well together as a team.” 

From his first Olympics in Montreal in 1976 to London in 2012, Stuart has seen and enjoyed commentating on the greatest athletes from around the world and some outstanding world record-breaking performances. 

“There’s only one man who has ever won the 400 and 800 metres at the Olympics and that’s Alberto Juantorena of Cuba. And I remember Ron Pickering saying ‘… and as they get towards 200m, Juantorena opens wide his legs and shows his class’. It was one of the great Coleman-balls. 

“Of course, Usain Bolt is absolutely superb and commentating on him in the London Olympcs was very special. He was just something else. I also commentated on the Diamond League 110m hurdles final in Brussels where Aries Merritt, the American who I got to know well, broke the world record for my Olympic event. 

I even criticised his last couple of hurdles by saying despite the record they were a bit untidy, to which he replied, ‘I was going so fast I couldn’t get out of the way of the hurdles’.”  

While he has travelled across the world to bring these moments into our living rooms, Stuart is equally proud of his achievements closer to home. 

He was involved from the beginning in the creation of what is now Wodson Park, using his recognition to call in favours as the land, bequeathed to the town by Norman Wodson for sport and recreation, was developed. He remains the chairman of the Wodson Park Trust. 

“Because of the, how can I put it, the media status that I had through being on television all the time covering all the major athletics championships, people would do things for me and with me. I considered it a great responsibility. 

“We had lots of help from individuals, groups such as Rotary, businesses the professionals, the architects and the accountants and solicitors… they did lots of work for nothing.” 

With everyone’s support, Wodson Park officially opened in 1989 and set up as a Trust. It now boasts an eight-lane athletics track, two grass football pitches, two large multi-purpose sports halls, tennis and netball courts and a 3G floodlit artificial football pitch. It also includes a recently refurbished gym. The Park has extensive facilities for events and celebrations in the Wadesmill Suite. 

“I was so lucky to be in a position where I was able to get people to give their time, as I was giving mine freely to develop a project that was so big.” 

Stuart has dedicated the award of his MBE to all those who played their part in the Wodson Park project. 

“When I look at it now, I think how on earth did we do that? Because we had such a fabulous team of people on the committees. Our current management team is talented, having guided us through the dreadful pandemic, and it continues to work towards full recovery. It also continues to develop the Park, keeping up with all the latest trends in sport and recreation just as management teams in the past have done.” 

Lord Coe opened the athletics track where Stuart still coaches some of the young local athletes coming through the ranks.  

“I’m there a lot of the time. I’m a qualified England coach, giving back to the sport I love. I’ve got about 11 athletes who I’m training on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and sometimes Saturday mornings as an extra session for hurdles. 

“As for me now, I’ve come to terms with retirement. I’m quite good at it really!” 

Action Tots returns in September

Our award-winning Action Tots will be returning from their summer break on Monday, 9th September. 

These different classes are suitable for all ages up to four. 

If you have a little one keen to take part in these active sessions, contact Judith via the Action Tots Facebook page or email contact@wodsonpark.org for more information. 

To find out more about Action Tots, click here. 

Get ready for summer fun with Little Monsters

Whatever the sun is doing this summer, it won’t stop the Little Monsters having lots of fun.

Bring your under-fives along for messy play, including painting, Play- Doh, a home corner, craft, soft play, ride-ons and lots of toys.

Older siblings are also welcome for the summer sessions. The cost is £5 per child (with an extra £2 per sibling).All sessions run from 9.30am to 11am.

Sessions are on Tuesday, 20th August, Friday, 23rd August, Tuesday, 27th August and Friday, 30th August.

Come and join in the fun!

Action Tots come out top in final vote

One of our classes has somersaulted its way to a top prize. 

Action Tots won the Best Activity Class or Group for Under-5s category in the Mum’s Guide to Hertford Awards. 

After being named as a finalist, it was then down to a public vote with Action Tots coming out on top. 

Chief executive Jan Stock said: “A huge thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for our class. We are so grateful. 

“These are excellent classes for youngsters, helping them improve their motor skills ahead of starting school, and we’re so proud that we have been recognised like this.” 

Classes are run for children aged between two and four, with some sessions including parents and others based around independent activity. 

The structured 45-minute sessions help children to improve their physical movement skills with climbing and balancing exercises. 

“The success of these classes is down to the skills and dedication of the staff who work hard to make them progressive and fun. They help develop children’s motor skills while encouraging social skills, like playing together.” 

Action Tots classes are run during term-time on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Find out more here.

May Bank Holiday Opening Times

Wodson park Entrance Sign

Changes to opening times

On Monday 27th May, we will be closing early, from 8am until 1pm, due to the May bank holiday.

Action Tots – Children’s class

Action Tots - Children Classes Poster

Action Tots

Action Tots 

Mini gymnastics and movement classes.  

Fun structure classes enabling children to develop physical movement skills through climbing, balancing and other fun physical activities.  

2-3 year olds (parent assisted classes) 

  • Mondays 10.30am 
  • Wednesdays 10.30am 
  • Thursdays 09.15 and 10.30am  
  • Fridays 10.30am  

3-4 year olds (Independent activity class) 

  • Mondays 1.45pm 
  • Wednesdays 1.45pm 
  • Thursdays 1.45pm 
  • Fridays 9.15am 

All classes are 45 minutes long and term-time only.  

Visit/message on Facebook ‘Action Tots Wodson Park’ or contact reception by calling 01920 487 091, or by using the button below.