Weds 18th May
- 12.00 – service at Southend Crematorium. West Chapel
- 13.00 – refreshments at Saxon Hall, 5 Aviation Way, SS2 6UN
The club is deeply saddened to have lost one of its oldest Vice Presidents, with the passing of Roland Darvell last Thursday, peacefully in Basingstoke hospital, after a short illness.
The goings-on at the Old Westcliffians RFC in the 1960’s, based at the old Gables at 1008 London Road, were very very different from that which we experience today, such is the continuous evolution of all things rugby-orientated. The club in those days played at a variety of grounds – Belfairs Park, Blenheim Park and the school. The club in those days certainly had its characters, and Roland was undoubtedly one of them – a fixture at the bar and with a commanding and formidable presence. Roland played rugby to a respectable standard in the fifties ad sixties and was heavily involved with all aspects of OWRFC life. A talented actor and singer, Roland was for many years a leading force in the Southend Operatic and Dramatic Society, or SODS as they were known. In those days, club entertainments used to feature Old Time Nights, in which Roland and various others performed with alacrity. Roland had several committee roles, both on the clubhouse and entertainment committees and as a non-playing selector and Colts manager, in an era when both of his sons Chris and Malcolm were proving themselves to be outstanding players, both of whose careers were cruelly curtailed through injury. Roland possessed strong views on many things, and arguments, usually well-humoured, were frequent and highly-entertaining. Sunday afternoons at the old Gables were famous for their “lock-ins” in the days when closing time was nominally two p.m., and Roland and his comrades from the SODS would often remain carousing well into the afternoon, seemingly using this time as practice for their next operatic performance. Roland was a major officer in the Old Westcliffian Association and the Old Westcliffian Masonic Lodge, over both of which he presided, and attended until quite recently. Roland was a long-standing VP for the considerable services he gave to the club, and was a frequent attendee at League lunches until 2019. After the death of his devoted and well-loved wife Pat, Roland elected to move to retirement accommodation in Berkshire close to his sons, and sadly he did not have the opportunity to see our wonderful new premises. It is ironic that only last Tuesday I was present at a party commemorating his sister Joan’s ninetieth birthday. I had the opportunity there to meet his younger son Malcolm, who said that in spite of his hospitalisation, Roland was in good spirits and was most unhappy to have missed Joan’s day. Thus yet another stalwart of our club has departed and we will miss him very much. The funeral, when arranged, will be in the Southend area, and I would like to think that the club will be very well represented, to celebrate the life of a remarkable man.