We’re so sad to share with you the news of the death of Owen Le Vallee MBE. He died at the age of 95, on Tuesday the 3rd of January, 2023.
Owen was one of the people who came up with the idea for the Island Games. It started as a conversation amongst Team Managers at the Commonwealth Games in Canada in 1978.
They were talking about the quality of the athletes at that Games and calculating whether they could get all the Commonwealth Games Islands together and add in some Mediterranean islands to put on a sporting competition.
This discussion eventually lead to the very first Games in the Isle of Man in 1985. It was deemed a success and the Team Managers thought it was an idea worth pursuing.
Owen said Guernsey would host and invited everyone to the second games in 1987. He didn’t have financial support or permission from the States at the time but he secured it in the intervening two years.
The Guernsey Games in 1987 saw 18 islands competing in 9 sports. Around a thousand people travelled to the island and it cost £32,000 to host. Since then the Games has grown in ways Owen and his friends couldn’t have imagined. Later this year, Guernsey will host the Games for a third time.
Owen’s contribution to sport in Guernsey, and further afield, was extensive. Owen was elected founder Chairman of the Guernsey Island Games Association in 1985 and became Chairman of the Guernsey Organising Committee for the 1987 Games.
Owen was the first Vice Chairman of the International Island Games Association in 1985 and then Chairman in 1987. Two years later he was made an Honorary Life Member of the IIGA. Then in 1993 he was elected to the office of IIGA Treasurer and served until his retirement in 2001.
Jorgen Pettersson, the Chairman of the IIGA, says “without enthusiasts like Owen Le Vallee the IIGA would not exist. Our memories go to all the fantastic moments of joy we have shared. Our condolences go to the family and friends of a great character who made a difference for many others, all over the world, far from his beloved Guernsey.”
GIGA Chairman, Brian Allen, says “our thoughts are with Owen’s family. He was the Father of the Island Games. A man with drive, inspiration and a love of sport. He was the Manager of Team Guernsey for 30 years covering Commonwealth and Island Games. His legacy is the idea of giving back to sport, through support and time, for the future youth of the island. He will be sorely missed.”
Owen was a keen all round sportsman himself, competing in Athletics, Football, Badminton, Cricket and Roller Hockey and representing the Island on many occasions. But it was his involvement as an international sports administrator over the years that had an impact for so many sportsmen and women in Guernsey.
He was a founder Member and Secretary of the Guernsey Sports Federation 1953 – 59 and founder Secretary of the Guernsey Sports Council from 1966 – 1971.
In 1968 Owen was a founder Member of the Guernsey Commonwealth Games Association and served as its Secretary and Chairman for more than 30 years. He attended 8 Commonwealth Games, 6 as General Team Manager for the Guernsey Team and as Chef de Mission for the Games in Victoria, Canada in 1994 and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1998.
There are many more accomplishments we could mention. But, as we prepare to host the Island Games in Guernsey this summer we know that although Owen can’t be with us in person, his spirit certainly lives on in the Games.
You might know Jo Robinson from tennis, but did you know she’s represented Guernsey in Windsurfing? To top things off she was part of the Gold medal winning team in Jersey. We love a bit of healthy island rivalry. But not only was that a good experience, Jo tells us it’s brilliant to be part of the team in the Island Games.
She feels competing on home turf will be a strong advantage for the Guernsey team.