In a year where we have already been rather harshly hit by departures of great club stalwarts, it was even more upsetting to learn that Ivor passed away over the week-end, peacefully in the care home where he had resided for the last few months of his life, in the company of his immediate family.

His name will probably be unfamiliar to younger members, such is the way of life, but to anyone involved with the club between the mid-seventies and early noughties “Uncle Ivor” was revered as a character sans pareil, whose input to the club via committee work and support in other ways added to the richness of the club’s existence during that period.

Ivor was a product of WHSB and played briefly for the club in the early fifties, before work and family commitments took over.   He returned to the club some twenty years later purely as a social member, having been persuaded by various OWRFC “stalwarts” who spent work evenings carousing in The Angel public house at the back of Fenchurch Street Station.

Ivor was instantly welcome at the old Gables – a jovial, happy and generous individual, never without a smile on his face.   Having been away from the club for a considerable while, he was clearly determined to make up for lost time, and entered fully into assisting the membership in many ways, initially with the Entertainments Committee and then as Bar Secretary, a position which he filled for several years.  

A major fundraiser for the club in those days was the OWRFC/OWCC tent at Essex County Cricket Week, which is still spoken about warmly today.   Backbreaking work for a small bunch of volunteers who would gladly forswear a week’s annual holiday to spread goodwill among, not only our members, but also amongst many others who benefited from our service.   The names Peter Stead, John Coxhead, Ivor Cleverley, Dave Shaer, Nick Gape and Bill and Mavis Copperwaite amongst others spring to mind when we reminisce back to some very happy times, which incidentally coincided with Essex’s rise from mediocrity to county champions on several occasions in the eighties.

Ivor was one of these people who not only had Welsh antecedents, but was fiercely proud of it, and would often sit provocatively in the clubhouse in a red jersey, with his permanent grin to the fore, whenever our friends from across the Severn were doing battle with us either at Twickenham or (in those days) Cardiff Arms Park.   Sadly for Ivor, the Welsh glory age was over by then!!!

The club partook in some very questionable foreign tours around this time, and Ivor was always one of the first to put his name down, possibly to act as the calming father figure, or maybe not.    Hamburg, Dunquerque and Paris stand out as three infamous occasions, about which no more need be mentioned publically.

Ivor became remarried, to Sylvia, the widow of his best friend Malcolm who had sadly died suddenly at a young age.   Their marriage seemed the perfect one, before God in his cruelty struck Sylvia down with serious illness.   Ivor nursed and cared for her over a long and painful period, showing what a dedicated and devoted man he was.  

After Sylvia’s demise, Ivor rallied and continued to enjoy life as he had done for so long.   In particular, he thoroughly enjoyed his trips to Twickenham and to Lord’s, and, although he was becoming frailer, was still an attendee at the club’s Ladies Night until only a few years ago.

Ivor did not have a single enemy and anyone who was lucky enough to share his company felt invigorated by the experience.   Although a very clever and shrewd businessman, he never allowed work to get in the way of bonhomie and relaxation, and will forever be remembered accordingly.

It is the family wish that the wake should take place at the clubhouse, which sadly Ivor never got to see.   Funeral details, when known, will be announced.

You were a legend, Ivor, and I miss your happy smile.   Rest in peace.