Wendy Billing (Lightfoot), SYO. 3rd November 1962 to 23rd September 2020
Wendy grew up in Stafford close to Cannock Chase where she was introduced to orienteering at secondary school joining the local club Walton Chasers. She took to the map reading straightaway and with her natural determination and physical strength, and the support of Peter and Marlene Palmer, she won a string of junior titles and progressed to the national junior squad.
Her passion for orienteering took her to Sheffield to study Maths where she was soon involved with organising the university club, becoming an integral part of the SHUOC team that dominated university orienteering in the early 80s. She was also a useful cross country runner and was a pioneer of women’s fell running joining the local club Dark Peak and setting several local course records.
She was called up to the National Squad and was a regular in the GB orienteering team throughout the 80s running in two World Championships with her best result 30th place in Hungary in 1983. After leaving university she decided to focus on her orienteering career, working 6 months a year in computing and training or racing the rest of the time, winning some high profile Scandinavian races along the way.
She joined South Yorkshire Orienteers and with a variety of team mates won the JK and British Relays eight times in the 80s and 90s. She continued to race at a high level in veterans classes through to W45, and although she competed less often, she was rarely out of the top 5 at the British and JK.
Photo Credit: Nick Barrable, CompassSport
Wendy was well known for making and designing things including the trophy for the infamous Walton Chasers ‘Spam Award’, the famous SHUOC O’ kit from the 80s which broke from the traditional pyjama like fashion of the times, countless ambitious DIY projects, and most recently a beautiful wooden commemorative seat (the Apple Core) on the hilltop above her home in Hathersage.
Although work and family took Wendy away from Sheffield for a number of years she kept her allegiance to SYO and eventually moved back with her family to live in the Peak District. She was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2013 but in typical Wendy fashion refused to let it slow her down immersing herself in projects, the biggest of which was staying alive to see her son Arran grow up. He turned 18 this year.
Her many friends from the orienteering world have been hugely supportive of Wendy in recent years. They speak of the energy and determination she put into everything she did (the Wendy Way), her mischievous side and the fun they had, her generosity and welcoming nature, and of course the ever present Wendy smile. I’m sure that the love and friendship she received gave her the energy to carry on in recent years and comforted her in last few weeks.
The current situation necessitated a small funeral, planned by Wendy of course, but there will be a memorial service at a later date where we can give her a proper send off. In the meantime ‘Wendy’s Challenge’ (a 2 hour orienteering course around Hathersage in her memory) will be available shortly for anyone to enjoy some of her favourite local places and the sport she loved.
Wendy is survived by her husband Keith and son Arran, her father John, mother Margaret and brother Nick.
Nick Lightfoot (SYO)