An obituary from John Hurley
Neil Forrest moved to the Matlock area around 1970 to take up a post in the planning department of Derbyshire County Council. He was then introduced to orienteering by his running partner Mike Reynolds (1) and in December 1971 attended a regional event at Matlock Moor East(2) where he successfully completed the B course. Having seen a poster in Matlock Library advertising the DVO AGM at Lea Green in January 1972, he went along and was signed up on the spot.
Neil became a regular competitor and helper at local orienteering events. He also became involved as an event official, planning at Bottom Moor in 1976 and then organising a number of events through the 1980s and 1990s including one of the early level B events on Eyam Moor in 1994.
During this time Neil was also an active fell runner, completing several Mountain Marathons with partner John Armistead. As was customary at the time, he also tackled the marathon distance on the road and recorded a sub 3-hour time at Derby in 1985. In 1984 he was a member of the Matlock AC team which won the team prize at the White Peak Marathon.
Neil made valuable contributions to the DVO CompassSport cup team over the years, scoring points in M45 in both 1989 and 1990. In the 2006 cup heat there was a strange incident where Neil and Rex Bleakman met up shortly after the start and they found that Rex had picked up the wrong map, so Neil swapped maps with Rex to allow him to have a competitive run. Rex received a Sports Personality nomination for this, but Neil’s action was the more sporting.
Neil and his first wife Janet had three children: sons Alex (now with SYO) and Ian have also participated in orienteering but daughter Ingrid, to my knowledge, hasn’t. After this marriage ended, Neil found his soulmate in Helen Finlayson and they attended many events and other expeditions together.
After retiring from his day job, Neil took on the roles of Newstrack editor 2007–2010 and club Access Officer 2009–2012, as well as finding time to marry Helen in 2008. Unfortunately problems developed with ankles and then knees which meant he was unable to continue orienteering. However he still maintained an interest in club activities, and Neil and Helen were holidaying in Scotland supporting other family members at the 5-day event when he was taken ill.
(2) This was the Mike Reynolds in South Darley, not the Mike Reynolds in Allestree who was Roger Wilkinson’s running partner.
(2) This event also saw the first appearances of Steve and July Buckley for DVO, and early appearances by Roger and Debbie Wilkinson then with HOC.
Judith Holt adds:
The photo shows Neil with Helen’s children, her daughter Mary who died a few years ago, in her 40s and her son Ian who now lives in America. Helen’s grandson Mori was one of the US team at JWOC this year.
Mary had cerebral palsy and Neil encouraged her participation in running and orienteering from her teenage years in Matlock Athletic Club through to her involvement in Matlock O in the months before she died.