Vivien Fairhurst, 1936-2022

Vivien fell in love with ice skating in 1947 after she borrowed a pair of her older sister Jean’s ice skates – she would flood her parents back garden which would quickly freeze over in the 1940’s winters.


It was gliding around on the frozen grass in Childwall, Liverpool, that Vivien’s parents Vince and Jennie Higson spotted her obvious natural talent and sent her to join Liverpool Skating Club where she quickly impressed.


Vivien soon passed her first Test of Proficiency and began competing throughout Great Britain – regularly travelling to the capital to train in Richmond and Streatham.

Her sister Jean Higson pair skated with Bob Hudson – becoming GB champions in the 1953/54 season, before marrying Forrest Morton in April 1954 and retiring.


Bob wanted to continue and asked Vivien to partner with him. They instantly clicked and went on to win various championships including the amateur pair skating championship of Great Britain in the 1954/55 season.


Their success continued, going on to compete for Great Britain in the 1955 European Championships in Budapest, Hungary – where she skated against elite competition from West Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.


Just three weeks later, Vivien and Bob competed at the World Championships in Vienna where they skated against a stellar field of World Champions and Olympic medallists.


In 1956, Vivien turned professional, which meant missing the ‘56 Winter Olympics, in which she was considered a hopeful.


After her success on the ice, Vivien took up judging and became one of the few in the sport who was qualified to judge three skating disciplines: figure, pairs and dance. She judged a number of prominent skaters including UK Olympic champion Robin Cousins.


By the 1980’s, she had broken into the elite – judging championships throughout Great Britain where she quickly established herself and became co-opted into The National Skating Association committee and their first-class judging panel.


Vivien, born 13th November 1936, passed away on Saturday 26th March 2022 and is survived by her husband Peter Fairhurst, her two children Janet and Paul and their spouses Steve and Karin, her six grandchildren and her six great grandchildren.


Her grandchildren commented: “The whole family have so many fond memories of Grandma, she was funny, cheeky, kind and an unbelievable cook – she will be missed very much, skate on Grandma!”


A British Ice Skating spokesperson said: “It is with great sadness that British Ice Skating learned of the passing of Vivien Fairhurst. She had an exceptional list of achievements as a skater and judge whose lifelong passion for the sport is obvious. From skating on a frozen garden in Liverpool to competing at a World Championships is the kind of inspiring story that many dream of being able to achieve. We would like to pass on our heartfelt condolences to her family and friends.”