"Floater" Hawken (right) with Gordon Stringer and "Bunny" Garrett

HP "Floater" Hawken

(extract from Eton Fives Association Annual Report 1998/99)

One of the last links of the Old Citizens Fives Club from the post-war period has been lost with the passing of a past Chairman, Henry Hawken, known to some as Philip, but known to all his sporting friends as 'Floater'.

This was a term of endearment from his ability to float the ball when bowling at cricket, one of the games he loved and did well at. He played cricket for the Old Citizens making the Ist XI and he took several wickets. He was no mean batsman and was in fact a good all rounder. He was particularly proud to be elected a member of the MCC. But the game which was his passion was Fives, at which he played for the Old Citizens in the first pair for many years. He was also instrumental in putting the Old Citizens Fives Club on the map after the war. He took on the Secretaryship when no-one else would and developed a long fixture list which included weekend tours to distant schools.

One of his life-long friends in Fives was fellow Old Citizen, B J Garrett, who always had the latest Jaguar in which to do the long distance trips and, in particular, the legendary annual one to Zuoz College, Switzerland. It was always recognised that Floater sat in the front as the navigator, a job at which he certainly showed some originality - if only in folding the maps. They were invited one year to play Fives at Prince Fugger's castle in Germany. When they got lost and asked a police motorcyclist for directions they had a police escort for the rest of the journey - 'Floater' was never sure if this was to their credit or not. Their other encounter with the police was when four of them were stopped one Saturday morning on the way to Charterhouse as four men in a Jaguar had just carried out a bank raid.

It was 'Floater's' character to be quiet, modest and unassuming and to some he may have come across as being casual and indifferent, but this masked a keen sense of protocol - he was always anxious that the Old Citizens gave a good account of themselves both on and off court, In his time as secretary he would sometimes count himself out of a match but still turn up in case anyone failed to appear. On the weekend tours and at the time of the annual Old Citizen Fives dinners in the 60s and 70s he was tremendous fun and of immense value socially. He also served for many years on the Old Citizens Sports Committee and was the first Old Citizen to be elected a member of The Jesters.

His career was in banking, finance and property and whereas he may have seemed laid back he was in fact very astute. In this respect and with his philosophical approach as an observer of life, it led to many of the younger generation confiding in him as a father figure. If there were situations of internal politics he would steer clear and come out with one of his familiar phrases - 'let them get on with it, old boy'.

'Floater' had a distinguished military career with the Royal Fusiliers in which he served three and a half years in India, a country which fascinated him. He became a Captain at twenty-six and rose to Major. He was one of the founders of the Reunion Association arranging dinners and he became their President in due course.

Some ten years ago it was necessary to have a leg amputated, but he faced this disability with fortitude and without the slightest rancour. He was accepted at the Royal Star and Garter Home, Richmond, where he played an active part, especially in the welfare of others less fortunate and he oversaw the induction of new residents. He always paid tribute to those who cared for him at the Royal Star and Garter and latterly Lynde House, Twickenham.

The last few weeks for'Floater' after the amputation of his other leg were extremely sad, but let us remember him as he would wish - a loyal, compassionate friend with a marvellous sense of humour and that infectious laugh. Those who knew him felt privileged and the Fives world and especially the Old Citizens have been enriched by him.

Our condolences go to his family, particularly to his brother, Tony and nephew, Malcolm, both fellow Old Citizens.