Walter Holland: Optician and key figure in weightlifting

Walter Holland coaching weightlifter Gary Langford in 1976, as the Great Britain team prepared for the Olympics in Montrea

Walter Holland coaching weightlifter Gary Langford in 1976, as the Great Britain team prepared for the Olympics in Montrea

First published in Obituaries

THE co-founder of a chain of Oxfordshire opticians, Walter ‘Wally’ Holland, has died aged 93.

Mr Holland, from Iffley, started the Robert Stanley Opticians business in Cowley Road in 1953.

When he and his partner Donald Salmon sold the firm in 2005 there were eight more shops across the county.

Mr Holland was also an Olympic weightlifting coach and was honoured with an OBE for services to the sport in 1977.

He passed away on Tuesday, June 28, at the Mon Choisy care home in Kennington.

Mr Holland was a spectacle maker and repairer when he met Mr Salmon, who worked for an optician.

When they decided to set up their own firm, the name of the optician’s business came from the third forenames of its founders, Robert and Stanley.

At its peak it had nine shops in Cowley Road, Templars Square and Headington in Oxford , and in Abingdon, Wantage, Grove, Wallingford, Thame and Carterton.

Mr Holland started weight- lifting in Wolvercote in 1964 and later became involved in coaching and administration.

He was a member of the International Weightlifting Federation and European Weightlifting Federation executive boards and served as president of the European Federation from 1987 to 1999.

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From 1972 to 1988 he was team manager for Great Britain at the Olympic Games and for England at the Commonwealth Games.

Mr Holland was married to wife Joan for 65 years before her death two years ago, aged 86.

He leaves a daughter Melinda, 63, twin grandchildren Scott and Louise, both 39, and great-grandchildren, Jordan, 20, Finlay, four, and Charlie, three.

His family said: “Wally, one of three brothers was a loving family man and was cherished by both his immediate and extended family.”

Mr Holland’s funeral is on Tuesday at Oxford Crematorium, in Bayswater Road, Headington, at 1.30pm.

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