THE family of leading Stafford athlete Kate Burge have thanked well-wishers for their cards and messages of support since the 41-year-old was killed in a road crash earlier this month.
Parents Anne and Graham Burge, of Rising Brook, have received more than 200 sympathy cards, Kate’s brother Hayden, 43, told the Newsletter.
“We would like to thank everyone for the numerous cards expressing love and respect for Kate,” he said. ”We have been overwhelmed to see the number of people’s lives that Kate touched.”
Kate, a former leading light with Stafford Harriers, who moved to the Isle of Man three years ago to take up a senior physiotherapy post, was cycling home from Noble’s Hospital with two colleagues when she was involved in a collision with a Range Rover, and died at the scene.
An inquest into her death opened this week, and her funeral is due to take place at 12.30pm on August 29 at Stafford Crematorium.
Her family have asked for no flowers at her funeral. Instead would like donations to two charities close to Kate’s heart - the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and the Hamlin Fistula Charity, which supports an Ethiopian hospital dedicated to the treatment of women with childbirth injuries.
“She was always on the go, involved in sport and in her career, and she made a real impression on people through both at work and through running and other sports,” Hayden said.
“She had only been in the Isle of Man for three years, but she had made so many friends, because she got involved in the sporting scene as a fell runner and cyclist.
“Even the policeman who was first on the scene at the accident knew her, because she had treated his mum.”
And he added: “She was my sister and my greatest friend, who I thought I would have as my friend for another 40 years.
“She always put other people first and saw the best in people. Everybody was lovely, according to Kate.”
Friend and former colleague, fitness instructor Diane Leek, 52, described Kate as “inspirational”.
“Everything Kate did was for the betterment of others,” she said. “With her skills she could have commanded a huge salary in the private sector, but she chose to work in the NHS and in local council sports centres.
“She always had time for people, and she was very witty with a great sense of humour.”
The talented athlete took up gymnastics at the age of six, while a pupil at Flash Ley Primary School, then played hockey and netball and competed in cross country for Rising Brook School, and went on to make her mark as a runner and triathlete.
She competed at national level, and was the winner of numerous races around the country, specialising in 10-mile and half marathon distances. Her victories included winning the Stafford Half Marathon on several occasions.
Kate was also a leading ranked performer on British Athletics’ Power of 10 rankings. Her cycling skills helped her to finish 10th in the ITU Duathlon World Championships in 1996. She won the UK standard distance elite class women’s duathlon championship the following year. And she won regional triathlon championships in 1994 and 1995.
At the same time, she was developing a successful career as a physiotherapist, working at Stafford and Cannock hospitals, and in the community at Rising Brook. Her specialities included women’s health, and working with Cystic Fibrosis patients, while she also taught Pilates exercises for St George’s patients, particularly young people with eating disorders.
She also taught Pilates and yoga at the borough council’s sports centre.
“Even though she left three years ago, we still call them Kate’s classes,” Diane said. “She made a great impact because of her knowledge and skills as a clinician. It turned what she was doing into much more than a standard exercise class, because she was supporting people back into fitness and regular activity and making a real difference to their lives.”
Diane said her friend had an eclectic range of interests, from sport to poetry, and was always looking for new things to explore.
“The last time we spoke, she had just been on a beginners sailing course on the Isle of Man, and had really enjoyed it.
“I loved her to bits, and she will be really missed.”