Skip to main content

Graham Turnbull

(extract from the Eton Fives Association Annual Report 1994/95)

Earlier this year the whole Fives world was shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Graham Turnbull. He had been involved in every aspect of the game ever since leaving Eton, and his departure leaves many gaps to fill.

He enjoyed playing fives, and so did those with whom he was playing. In the third pair he knew how to encourage the young opponent to perform above expectation, and his match against St John's Leatherhead became a regular feature, owing much of its success to his efforts as match manager to raise a suitable side. His appearances in the Kinnaird were only occasional, yet he performed with vigour and enthusiasm.

It is however in the administration of the EFA that he will be missed most keenly. In 1964 he was proposed by the Old Etonians for the Committee, after he had been their Honorary Secretary for two years, and from that time on he was never outside the counsels of the game. That year a competition for Old Boy clubs was being mooted, and Graham immediately offered to run it; as the years passed the competition was re-named the Alan Barber Cup, but it remained in his capable hands, and even when he had undertaken further responsibilities he constantly kept himself up to date with results and developments. In 1972 he became Honorary Treasurer, a post he occupied for twenty-three years and whose operations he reduced to a smoothly running machine, retaining the human touch even when demanding payment. His contributions to committee discussion were always relevant and often trenchant, and it was almost inevitable that he should be elected Chairman in November 1980. During the next five years he guided the Committee through a period of continuing expansion and innovation, taking pleasure in producing the newsletter and in laying sound foundations for the County Championships. He also much enjoyed another of his brainchildren, the EGM on the first day of the Kinnaird, believing that this was a way of painlessly eliciting and so eradicating potential grouses; he chaired the often heated exchanges with urbanity and good humour and always made a point of reporting the main topics to the Committee afterwards with total lack of bias. After reverting to the Treasurer's position he instigated the discussions on charitable status.

In the name of the EFA I would like to extend our sympathy to his widow Kitty and their family: at the crowded memorial service in Pirbright parish church it was made abundantly clear how much he adorned the many different fields he touched; how fortunate the EFA has been to have benefited from his efforts for so many years.