Olympian athlete turned opera star, Anne Pashley, dies

Picture of Anne Pashley returning to Great Yarmouth 50 yrs after winning a silver medal in the Melbo

Picture of Anne Pashley returning to Great Yarmouth 50 yrs after winning a silver medal in the Melbourne Olympics. She was given at Civic Certificate for her achievements in athletics and as an accomplished Operatic Singer. (married name Anne Irons)Photo: Angela SharpeCopy: Stephen PullingerFor: EDP/GYMEDP pics © 2006(01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant © 2006

Anne Pashley, who has died aged 81, was an Olympic medal-winning sprinter who started her career in Great Yarmouth.

Anne Pashley - athlete and singer. Olympic silver medal at Melbourne 1956 and opera singer.

Anne Pashley - athlete and singer. Olympic silver medal at Melbourne 1956 and opera singer. - Credit: Archant

Despite failing to qualify in the 100m at the 1956 Melbourne Games she won silver in the 4x100m relay.

After her athletics career, she turned to opera, with acclaimed performances at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London.

Her family moved to the area so father Roy could become an English master at Great Yarmouth Grammar School.

Anne Pashley's sporting prowess was spotted at school in Great Yarmouth and soon she was taking part in county championships and representing Britain around Europe.


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She was recruited by Tom Parke, a coach at Great Yarmouth Athletics Club, whose coaching and advice she later said pointed her in the right direction.

In 1953, while competing in the AAA championships at White City, she equalled the British women's 100-yd record of 10.8 seconds; the following year she took bronze in the 100m at the European Games in Berne, Switzerland.

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Speaking about the relay medal in 2012, Mrs Pashley said: 'It was fun. I did the start so it was quite a responsibility. We used to practise quite a lot – it's quite a technical business actually, very easy to get wrong.'

In 2006 Great Yarmouth borough council invited her back to mark the 50th anniversary of her Melbourne medal. 'It didn't seem to have changed a great deal,' she said of the town, noting that whelks and fish and chips were still on sale in the market square. 'It's a lovely place.'

In 1959 Anne Pashley married Jack Irons, a tenor she had met at the Guildhall and with whom she occasionally performed duets. He died in 2005 and their son, Leon, died in 2013. She is survived by their daughter, Cleo.

Anne Pashley, born June 5, 1935, died October 7, 2016

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