On the 1st January 2014 after a tough battle with cancer one of the most respected members of the British Gymnastics community, Alan Burrows (80) passed away, his photographs from the late 50s through to the 80s remain in the golden pages of the history of our sport.
Alan served the RAF from 1951 to 1953 and then worked in the printing business in London. He attended his first international event in the late 1950’s in Birmingham where he was able to photograph the great Swiss gymnast Joseph Stalder. In the following years he worked closely with “The Gymnast” editor Jim Prestidge, providing him with photographs for the magazine.
Alan's first Olympic Games was Rome 1960, where he shot iconic gymnasts such as Larisa Latynina, Polina Astakhova, Boris Schaklin, Yuri Titov, Albert Azarian and Takashi Ono. His photos over the next 20 years were seen worldwide and Glenn Sundby often published them in the USA’s “International Gymnast” magazine. Following Rome, Alan attended every Olympic Games through to Moscow in 1980. He has also covered numerous European and World championships.
“His work was an inspiration to me and the yardstick by which I measured my work when I too, became a photographer. We all have people in our lives who have inspired an motivated us to reach our potential and Alan was one of those. I always felt I knew Alan through his photography, well before I actually met him. As a young PE teacher and novice gymnastics coach, I had come to admire his work in “The Gymnast” and “International Gymnast” magazines and was impressed by his ability to capture the peak moments of the sport - and all this using the challenging photographic techniques and equipment available at the time”, says award winning photographer Eileen Langsley.
Last year Alan Burrows was very thrilled to get a copy of Eileen’s book, “The Road to 2012” which contained some of his photos.
Bill Cosgrave adds: “It seemed that every competition I went to either as a competitor or spectator a would find Alan there with camera around his neck. Sometimes, he’d arrive from London at Brown Gym in Aldershot during our Sunday morning training, delivering copies of photos he took the day before. When he stood beside Nic Stuart it was a classic ’Little and Large’.
I found him a quiet, gentle and generous person who displayed a great understanding of gymnastics first and a brilliant photographer second. I still treasure a large framed photo he took and presented to me, showing Yukio Endo on the Pommel Horse in 1965 after he won the Olympic all-round the previous year in Tokyo.”
Alan Burrows love for the sport shines through in the photographs that are his legacy. He will be much missed.
The cremation is on Jan 28th 2014, 11.30 am at Eltham Crematorium (sometimes called Falconwood).
Address: Crown Woods Way, London SE9 2AZ.
The wake is at Broke Hill Golf Club: Sevenoaks Road Halstead Kent TN14 7HR.