Keith Evans 1938 – 2023

Keith Evans, a long-time club member and a great friend to many, passed away on the 12th of October in London. It was 1985 when Keith first graced the Serpentine membership roster, but because he remained active in the club until the end he’s known to even newer members as a competitor, volunteer, or supporter. Take a look at his results in Serpiebase and you’ll see an impressive list of events he competed in including club championships, Assembly Leagues, Cabbage Patch 10-milers, Greenbelt Relays, and Summer Leagues.

Keith Evans Handicap

But perhaps the race Keith is most associated with is the club Handicap. He ran 234 Handicaps (one of only six people in the club to run more than 200). He achieved a podium place in many of these races as evidenced by the staggering number of medals displayed in his flat. His final Handicap win was in November 2018, 33 years after his first race. In 1986 he won the famous Hogshead trophy, a feat he was very proud of. Keith loved participating in the Handicap in large part because it allowed him to stay connected with all his friends in the club. His last full Handicap was in March 2020, but he continued post-lockdown as an Emeritus runner until April 2023. 

In addition to his Handicap wins and Hogshead trophy, Keith also received the 2005 and 2019 John Stonham Farewell cup awarded because of a return to running after injury or illness. He is the only member to have received this award twice. 

There was much more to Keith than his running, though. His professional life was spent working in TV and film, most famously as assistant director on two groundbreaking British films: Kes and Get Carter. Keith delighted in recounting the quirky brushes with fame his profession afforded him – Petula Clark and Celia Johnson of Brief Encounter being two notables. After he retired, Keith never lost his love of film and was a frequent sight in the NFT1 screening room at the BFI. 

Outside of work, Keith lived life to the max. He was an avid traveller and accomplished skier who tried to hit the slopes several times a year. He loved London and took advantage of all the city had to offer. Every summer, he set aside time to partake in the Proms and savour the strawberries and cream of Wimbledon and at Christmas time he would arrange to hear the choir at Westminster Abbey. He enjoyed following politics and wasn’t afraid to participate in a protest march. Never far from a copy of the Guardian even outside of the UK, his friend Ian Hall vividly remembers Keith cycling through the French countryside with a copy of the newspaper strapped to his bike.

Perhaps Keith’s defining feature was not his running, skiing, film background, or penchant for travel, but his love for his friends. Keith amassed friends from all generations and all walks of life. He enjoyed nothing more than gathering with friends and setting the world to rights – if it was over a tasty dinner and a pint of London Pride then that was all the better. He never missed the chance to spend time with friends, embracing every social invitation that came his way. In so many areas of his life and especially in the way he treated his friends, he was a true inspiration and he has left us with many happy memories. He will be greatly missed.

In 2018 Juliet Collins interviewed Keith for Serpentimes, this is republished here.

Details of the funeral arrangements will be shared once these are available.

 

Diana Valk

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