Sir, Under the heading "Athletics honours Pirie" (February 26) you report the tributes paid to the late Gordon Pirie at the memorial service in St Bride's Church, Fleet Street. As well as his contemporaries, the athletics establishment, both past and present, and the press were well represented.
It is regrettable that this acclaim and recognition comes now, after he has gone, and was not expressed when he was alive. The country he served so well on the world's running tracks thought him unworthy of an honour, while the establishment found no place for his profound knowledge of the sport and his boundless enthusiasm. It must baffle his many admirers world-wide that Britain offered him no official coaching post.
The argument was put forward in your sports letters (December 26) that the regular award of honours for sporting achievements did not begin until the Sixties, after Pirie's time. This is not correct.
In the Queen's Birthday Honours list of June 1955, Sir Roger Bannister, a contemporary of Pirie, was appointed CBE for his services to amateur athletics, clearly for achieving the first sub-four-minute mile the preceding year. In the same list, George Headley, the West Indian cricketer, was created MBE.
Picking at random, one finds in the New Year's Honours of 1958 a CBE for Dennis Compton (services to sport), a similar honour for Dai Rees (golf) and the MBE for the boxer Hogan "Kid" Bassey (for his services to sport in Eastern Nigeria).
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