It is with much sadness that I report the passing of our club president and great friend and benefactor Len Hatton. Len died last Wednesday 20th July at his home in Monaco following a stroke a few days earlier, Len was 87
I first met Len in 1971, a few days earlier Len had had a business meeting with my friend Don Newbold and had mentioned that he was looking to put money into British sport and asked for any suggestions. Len had studied surveying at the Poly and as a former half miler had run for the Polytechnic Harriers and the Amateur Athletic Association.
At this time the club had travelled to Sofia in 1970 to compete in the European club championships and having qualified again in 71 we were hoping to stage a preliminary round in Crystal Palace. Don suggested that charity begins at home and perhaps he could support the Poly Water Polo team
I met with Len a few days later and he kindly agreed that we should go ahead and that he would underwrite any loss. In the event thanks to extensive advertising we filled Crystal Palace on all three days and actually made a profit despite having to pay for bath hire,the visiting teams and officials accommodation plus the officials air fairs.This so impressed Len that agreed to support us in the future and shortly after accepted the post of club president
With Lens backing we then had the confidence to again stage preliminary rounds in 73 and 76 together with the televised Aquafresh Trophy tournament in 74 to celebrate the clubs centenary when again we were able to bring 4 leading european club sides to London
Over the years that followed Len poured a vast amount of money into the club and it was this support that helped bring about the teams unprecedented success over the next thirty years. And of course Lens support was not only financial, he attended all our tournaments at Crystal Palace and would always lay on parties for our visiting teams and officials. He would also often turn up to support abroad one particular night in Barcelona being legendary.
Len was a wonderful man of sport, he gave huge support to very many sports and Olympians, he sponsored the Hatton Mile for which the word top milers competed, he was the A.A.A. surveyor and chairman of "Sport England" for many years.
Lens funeral will take place on Tuesday 26 July in Monaco with a Memorial Service in this country later in the year.
Our thoughts are with Lens wife Carole and children Micheal and Nicole
- Neil May