With great sadness, we have learned of the death of Club Vice President Alan King.
Betty & Owen share some memories;
It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of someone who was the most colourful and influential person in the Club's history.
Alan will always be remembered for his ready wit and funny stories but also for his compassion and loving care. His dedication to the Club and his support of all of its members, especially in the years of his Presidency, is legendary. When he retired from this role, there was a spell when the Club was 'in the doldrums', We persuaded him to stand for Presidency again and he agreed despite saying "I am too old - they don't want old farts like me" but we knew that he was the obvious person to help things get back on track and rebuild the Club Spirit which was at a low ebb.
Alan had many gifts, but in particular the one which all good teachers have – the ability to communicate with people of all ages, all diversities of background and all levels of intellect. His experience as Head of the ILEA establishment at Coombe Hall School which was his last-but-one teaching post would have stood him in good stead and, of course, his teaching career was long and varied before that.
But we knew him best in the early days of supporting the Club, both home and away. Phil Appleyard, then head of EHA, referred to East Grinstead as having the only unlicensed car boot bar in the Country. This was in the days before clubs had their own refreshment facilities and we used to take a bottle of sherry to have with our sandwich lunch, usually consumed in freezing or wet conditions. So, the "Magnificent Seven" as Marjorie Poole called us (Alan and Pam King, Marjorie and Brian Poole, Betty and Owen Hill, George Pitcher) plus John and Christine Harris became known by the rest of the Club as The Sherry Brigade!
We used to make a weekend of it when travelling to support the team on away games, staying at modest hotels where Alan used to confuse the poor waiters and waitresses by asking for Lobster Thermidor! George Pitcher was a reasonably well-informed wine buff and Alan, whose drink of preference was always whiskey, used to wind George up by saying – "let me taste some of that white rubbish – urgh, it's horrible, it needs some sugar in it" as he stirred several spoonfuls into a nice crisp Pouilly Fumée. Although this drew wrath from George and laughter from us, Alan always looked after us on the sidelines with well-stocked hip flasks of the hard stuff to warm us up on freezing cold days. He, you will remember, always had the additional warmth provided by the famous deerstalker hat!
On one of our trips, we were booked into a country pub where we had lunch on the Saturday. The "girls" (Pam King, Christine Harris, Marjorie Poole and Betty went into Exeter to shop, leaving the husbands, and George, in the pub. Alan asked for whiskey only to be told that the landlord did not serve it, as such, but had a secret stash in his own private accommodation. So they had a lock-in for about three hours.
Alan was loved by all, young and old alike. He didn't realise it, but we all used to seek him out, listening to his funny stories, relishing every word he uttered.
Most of you will know that he suffered ill health in his later years and had moved to Chichester. We still remember him holding court at his nearby Wetherspoons with about ten old locals, all again hanging on to every word.
We had the privilege and pleasure of seeing him, with David Sumpter, on a few occasions at Marilyn and James' house, in recent years. Our sympathies are with them and their family at this time.
He will be sadly missed.