Last Saturday one of the stalwarts of the club passed away at the age of 94. Life member Laurie Wilkinson must have been involved in some capacity of the club for the best part of 75 years and was the epitome of a “clubman”. He is remembered with great affection by those of us who got to know him.
On the field he played both Hockey and Cricket, and was a keen golfer. As Gill Davies will testify he kept up with the latest developments in the games, lamenting the modern hockey player’s ability to stop a ball correctly following the move to astro turf.
He played hockey for at least three decades being fullback for the first team through the fifties and early sixties and had been club captain – and before that second team captain. He was a great tackler and cleared the ball vigorously. He enjoyed the social side of the club – he liked having a beer or two and was well known for a fruity laugh and some rather risqué jokes.
He was one of the great figures in this era of the club and was an architect of the agreement that brought the Old Salians Rugby Club to the club – although his relationship with the Old Boys was sometimes a little fraught as the relationship bedded in. His record of service to the club is unparalleled. He served as President 1965 – 1968, following the 34 year run of Sir William Procter-Smith. He also served as Honorary Treasurer from 1948-1957, and Bar Chairman.
He also gave great service to the Ground Company; he was Secretary between 1948 and 1999, and a Director from 1955 to 2014. The Ground Company was quite active in the early days so it was a big responsibility.
He was a chartered accountant, a senior partner in Bedell and Blair and was the club’s auditor for a long time. He was very patient and tolerant with the club treasurers over the years, he asked the right questions and offered a fair degree of challenge – and there was the odd chuckle of throaty mirth when he heard one or two attempts to explain why something was in one column when it should have been in another.
Whilst his health prevented him coming down to the club for the last few years he was always keen to hear about the comings and goings at the club. The main purpose of the Ground Company AGM, held at his house, being to share the latest gossip with Laurie and listen to stories from his time at the club.
The last club AGM he attended was my daughter’s first, so on that evening we truly did go from nought to ninety.