Passing of Dick Smith

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We are very sad to announce that Dick Smith passed away peacefully on Sunday 3 February, after a long and painful illness.  Dick’s association with the club stretched back over more than fifty years, when he joined the OWRFC after leaving Westcliff High School for Boys.  Dick was a formidable member of the 1st XV for a decade, playing generally in the back row under the captaincies of Gus Chesney, Chris Sharples, Mike Fahie-Wilson and Alan Noakes.   He was a great club man, both on and off the field, being fully involved in all club activities, including cameo appearances in club pantomimes where his acting and singing styles were often the source of wonderment.  Dick moved down to the Guildford area shortly after the end of his playing career and followed a successful career in accountancy and he was notable for sponsoring one of the first ever pre-match lunches at Aviation Way, in the days when such functions were far from being the norm which they are today, and he continued to do ever since.  It is certainly true to say that the perennial successes of the pre-match lunch events which we hold before each league game have derived from Dick’s ground-breaking example.  The “Dick Smith” lunch, which in recent years has been jointly supported by Alan Noakes and John Wilkins, certainly was (and still is) a major annual event in club folklore, with numerous contemporaries travelling many hundreds of miles to attend, in some cases coming from as far away as Australia and Japan.   Shortly after the inception of the lunch, Dick suffered a serious spinal injury which initially left him semi-paralysed, but which he gradually overcame with typical resolve and determination.   More recently, he was sadly stricken again with his last illness, which tragically proved to be terminal.  In spite of the gravity of his situation, Dick continued to battle right until the very end, showing huge stoicism and fortitude in the face of adversity, and indeed still summoned the strength, although clearly very unwell, to be present for one last lunch at the club just before Christmas, in order to plan this year’s event.   Dick was Westcliff through and through, and was deservedly a Vice President of many year’s standing.   He will be sorely missed, and the club’s sympathy is extended to Annie and his family at this difficult time.   Funeral details will be advised when known.


Nick Crowe