Karen Game (London League member): It was one of the biggest shocks of my life to lose Florence; I knew she had lost her voice for some months, and had many tests and physiotherapy, but she was unable to work, a former teacher at Stockwell, but recently for Seetec, supporting adult students in IT studies.
We would regularly have 10 or even 15 games on the go at any one time on Facebook scrabble, all times of day and night.
She loved coming to tournaments, we flew to Edinburgh a few years back and did sightseeing prior to the tournament, to Swindon many times by car, sometimes with Colin St Hill, Mohamed Kamara, sometimes Moira Metcalf and myself. She was always loud but excellent company, if you can imagine a subdued Florence unable to speak, the thought is almost unbelievable.
When Bobby and myself got married in 2018, Florence, Moira and her sister Melissa accompanied us on the journey together to the Register Office, where all the other guests were waiting.
I used to tease her and say I was her social secretary, because she would ring me for the address and phone number for her matches at the last minute. We sometimes went to concerts and theatre, the last one to Barry Manilow at the 02, and we went cruising to the Caribbean and got on like a house on fire constantly, she was always kind, patient, fun and thoughtful, so many words I can use to describe her but they would fill this page. Her husband, who died many years ago, had family in the Caribbean and she tried unsuccessfully to make contact whilst we were there. It only seems a few months back she asked if we could go together on another cruise - to Los Angeles, Las Vegas (Florence loved a flutter), and the Caribbean, but sadly that was not meant to be, as she couldn’t work. I know Priscilla Encarnacion was also a travel buddy over the years.
It never crossed my mind that she wouldn’t get better; I never imagined her silence and lack of contact was because she had gone and left us all.
I found out by chance because I couldn’t bear not speaking to her any longer and went to her flat and found a note on her front door, giving the date of her funeral of 7th February; I found out too late, and had no family contact details, so managed to trace the Father of the Church, the funeral directors, her former employers, and finally received a call from her lovely niece Unoma, who I had heard so much about over the years but never met. It was Unoma and her other nieces who had organised her funeral and burial, but could not unlock Florence’s phone or iPad, but she explained that the church was full of people who loved and respected her, and what had happened to cause Florence’s demise, which made some sort of sense and cause of the terrible loss. Florence was religious and would attend church when she could.
I spend so much time myself at King’s Hospital, and did not know I was so close – yet so far – from my dear friend and could have been by her side as she had been admitted mid-December, but needed constant care and was moved to a hospice near her niece in Watford where she died on 4th January. RIP my dear friend Flo.
If you would like to leave a more personal tribute, which can be shared by her family and friends, her niece Unoma sent me this link to be included on the Scrabble website: https://www.forevermissed.com/florence-onyesogbuzia-fontaine/about.
Priscilla Encarnacion (London League member): It is indeed a great shock as Florence was full of life, laughing all the time even if she was losing her game. She always joked about the blank tiles. I knew she had so much trouble with her health but didn't realised the seriousness of it.
Incidentally, my first Scrabble board is at her house which we used whenever I went there because I didn’t like the board she had where the tiles didn’t sit well.
So sorry to hear of her demise, she was my friend too, will pray for her, RIP Florence.
Elie Dangoor (London League mermber): I had played Florence twice - she seemed a nice lady, though I did not know much about her. It appears people didn’t know she was unwell. Nowadays, thanks to the internet, you can find out more about people, even though it seems her name was not uncommon. I found this, with a reference to her Scrabble in the LSL. It seems she was older than she looked, and had an interesting life: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/florence-o-fontaine-05228665.
Peter Dolgenos (London League member): That is sad news indeed. I went to her flat several times. She did not seem ill or that old...
ANN BEST | JOYCE CANSFIELD.|..
We are sad to report the passing of former London Scrabble League member Ann Best and long time Scrabble player Joyce Cansfield. Ex-member Ann Best (above left) died on 15th October. She was very well liked, and had many good friends in the Scrabble League and from going on Scrabble holidays. She will be much missed by all those who knew her. The funeral was for family only. Joyce Cansfield (above right) was not a London Scrabble League member but regarded as the matriarch of Scrabble in the formative years of Scrabble. She won the National Scrabble Championship in 1998, was the first series winner of Countdown and compiled fiendish crosswords for The Times. She died after a long illness on 12th October aged 90.
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Roisin Gruner (sister-in-law): Could you let people who knew George Gruner know that he died earlier this morning (Tuesday 30th July). He was far from well, with little quality of life when his Scrabble playing and his other interests were affected by his deteriorating condition, so we see this as a release. I'm sure he'll be remembered with affection by all his fellow-players.
Ruth MacInerney (London League member): George had many talents which included piano playing. He met his late wife through their shared love of music. He was also very good at reading hand writing where he could judge the character of people he did not know. However his main passion was Scrabble. He would like to have had an ABSP rating of 190. But, unlucky for him, he just fell short by three points. He quite rightly became an expert and managed to win many tournaments, three of which were consecutive wins at the Luton tournament against a strong field of experts. After spending his working life travelling the world as an employee of the travel industry he set up, and ran, the Ickenham Scrabble Club. He then joined the London Scrabble League in June of 1994 where he spent time as Complaints Officer on the Committee as well as running several Sunday Drives. He beat me for the Drive Cup which he certainly deserved. It was sad, however, that his late wife became terminally ill inasmuch as he had to care for her so was unable to play as much Scrabble as he would have liked. Her death in January 2009, even though it was a merciful release, was a big loss for him. It was fortunate, at the time, that had his pet dog (Dougal) who was a great source of comfort for him in his time of loss and beyond. However his dog died which was a major blow and probably led to the beginning of his deterioration which led to dementia thereby forcing him to spend his final years in a care home. Even although he has sadly died, I am glad that he has been relieved of his suffering. R.I.P. George.
Sandie Simonis (London League secretary): Sad news. I hadn’t realised he had deteriorated so quickly. Strangely enough I thought of him this morning as I passed his old house to and from Rickmansworth Aquadrome for my Tuesday morning walk.
Mike Willis (Former London League member): Sad to hear, George was a decent man and a great Scrabble opponent..
James Burley (London League member): Such sad news, and totally agree with your comments at the bottom Sandie. My experiences of George were that he was a lovely man and still a very good player as his condition set in, but it was devastating to watch his deterioration unfold. Sleep well George..
Mike Whiteoak (ABSP Chairman): Rachelle and I are both very sad to hear this news. As others have said, he was a gentleman, a pleasure to talk to, and a very strong player in his day. Rachelle used to make a point of speaking to him at tournaments, as she sensed that he was lonely, with no close family after losing his wife. He will be missed, but he, and his beloved canine companion Dougal, will not be forgotten.
Esther Kasket (Scrabble player): A gentle gentleman R.I.P...
Elie Dangoor (London League member): I have a lot of fond memories playing George in the London League and Middlesex League, and I recall that he was something of a linguist..
Terry Kirk (Former London League chairman): I played George a lot over the years - as others have mentioned, he was always the perfect gentleman. I believe he also was a composer.
Laura Finley (ABSP Secretary): Yes, my son Ian did some work on a website for George - Duettino. George was a talented pianist..
Alec Webb (Scrabble player): Absolutely remembered with affection. R.I.P. George..
Catherine Ensby (niece): It is with great sadness I have to pass on the news about Christopher who passed away at home following a short illness on 18th February 2019. He was 72. Christopher had 2 passions in life Scrabble and cricket. In his possessions are the rules to Cricket Scrabble devised by him combining his 2 great loves. As a family we decided that the Lords Cricket Ground Memorial Garden would be a very fitting place to scatter his ashes. We will be remembering him in a small family ceremony before the start of this seasons cricket matches.
Jenni Chan (London League member): I will remember him with a smile.
Sandie Simonis (London League secretary): Very sad indeed. Chris was one of few players who loved the game of scrabble but genuinely did not seem to mind losing and felt honoured to be playing someone he deemed to be better than himself. With a smile and a chuckle he would often quote something one of his family would say. Rest in peace Chris..
Jonathan Maitland (London League member): A lovely chap, kind and innocent : rest in peace Christopher..
Daniel Morgan-Thomas (grandson): It is with great sadness I have to pass on the news about my granddad, Harold Robinson (former London League Secretary and father of Ruth Morgan-Thomas), he passed away in University College Hospital. He was 90. Many older Scrabble members will remember him. He will be sadly missed. His funeral was arranged at Golders Green Crematorium.
Philip Nelkon (Former London League member): Sorry to hear that, very funny and nice man.
Mike Willis (Former London League member): So sorry to hear and condolences to family and friends. He was a witty and friendly person and we shared an interest in railways. He was one of the very first shareholders in Eurostar. I used to play him regularly at his house near the Abbey Road studios where I wrongly learned the word QUEX* and discovered that the bridge bidding system ACOL* was also named after a nearby street. He’s sadly missed and remembering Ruth as well.
Rachelle Whiteoak (Former London League member): Sad news. Harold was a lovely man. His last years were difficult especially when his wife Yvonne passed away closely followed by his daughter Ruth. R.I.P. Harold..
Priscilla Encarnacion (London League member): Sorry to hear about Harold, a very genial man. Actually he was the one who introduced me to the LSL. A colleague of mine in the Operating Theatre used to be a neighbour of his, then it's history..
Robert Richland (Former London League treasurer): I have very fond memories of lengthy phone conversations with Harold, chatting about postcodes, old London telephone exchanges and other trivia. He was London League membership secretary for many years.
Philippa Morris (London League member): So very sorry to hear this news. Harold spent many an evening playing London League matches at my home and I used to help him with distributing the League newsletter.
Allan Simmons (Former London League member): Great memories of Harold, his sense of humour, and early Scrabble meet-ups at his house (near Highgate I recall). R.I.P. Harold..
Terry Kirk (Former London League chairman): Very sorry to hear this. Harold and I both served on the London Scrabble League Committee together for several years, where he did a lot for the Scrabble community. As others have said, he was a very witty man with a great sense of humour. I enjoyed our chats and learned a lot about his twin passions of visiting funicular railways and enclaves. R.I.P. Harold..
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Newsletter 402: 'The Newsletter is very sad to report that one of our members, Cherry Shade, partner of Keith King has passed away following a short illness. Cherry liked all things bright and colourful, Cherry's funeral was on 23rd August at Hither Green crematorium.
Florence Fontaine (London League member): Cherry liked all things bright and colourful, so we’d love everyone to wear something cheerful! I met Cherry for the first time in my house when she came with Keith for a scheduled scrabble game and Keith introduced her as his partner few years ago. We warmed up to each other and from that day we became friends. Cherry is very lively, friendly and welcomes people to her home with open arms. I have never been to her house for a game of scrabble without Cherry wrapping some takeaway for me. She introduced me to her family and I always feel at home in her house. Everyone that had the opportunity to have met Cherry will forever miss the smiling and cheerful Cherry as you can see here in the picture below before a game of scrabble at a tournament. May your gentle soul rest in peace and may perpetual light shine upon your soul. Loved you and will miss you greatly..
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Karen Game (London League member): 'I was sad to hear about Sylvia, I guess it was on the cards. She was a feisty lady and unique and despite her moaning (and mine about her moaning) I was fond of her. She played a fearsome game right to the last time I played her and I learned a lot of words from her, especially the Hebrew ones.
Viv Bishop (London League Fixtures Organiser): Sylvia was a determined Scrabble player who looked forward to her weekly matches. Woe betide me should I have to leave her in the unfixed list, I got a tongue lashing! She did not like it so would immediately be on the phone cajoling anyone and everyone to make up a foursome. Her body was frail but her spirit certainly was not. On Scrabble evenings the first to arrive would have to get the boards etc from the cupboard and set up. In her old flat the table would have to be cleared of papers and a heavy vase moved. In her new flat we played in the communal lounge so there would be a trundle down the corridor with Scrabble stuff and a trolley laden with mid evening refreshments. She was very hospitable and I will miss her.
Norma Galley (London League member): I was very shocked and saddened to hear about Sylvia Stock. She had seemed in fine fettle when I last saw her. Over the years, I developed a great rapport with Sylvia, who was quite a character! She was a highly intelligent, sharp witted person who seemed to get so much pleasure from Scrabble and, I gather, bridge also. She had a great sense of humour, was an extremely hospitable host, presenting her guests with a lavish display of food at break time. Not necessary, I know, but nevertheless enjoyed and appreciated by everyone there. This news has upset me greatly. I am really going to miss her.
Sandie Simonis (London League Secretary): I was pleased to be able to go to the shiva service for Sylvia Stock as I was unable to attend her funeral. I met Sylvia many, many years ago when she first joined the League and lived in Harrow-on-the-Hill. I mostly enjoyed her company as she always had some funny anecdote to relay though you definitely did not want to get on the wrong side of her! She was also very kind and thoughtful. When I broke my ankle and was unable to get around except on crutches for several weeks it was Sylvia who visited with a container full of delicious home-made soup for me. The shiva was actually a very joyous occasion - a few tears through smiles and a lot of laughter. Her son David spoke beautifully about his mum - both about her fierce love for her family and her idiosyncrasies. Everyone there seemed to recognise the Sylvia they had known - the way she always complained to the top man in an organisation and was often rewarded with a bouquet of flowers or other gift. It was interesting to hear more about her early life and meet her beloved sons, sister and grandchildren. Another sad loss for the League and of course her family..
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JUDITH BOEHM 27th February 1925 - 24th March 2018
Viv Bishop: 'Those of you with very long memories may remember Judith Boehm. She was my second cousin. Judy left the League just after I joined, following a nasty accident on the way to a fixture at Richard Woodward's in which she broke her leg. Under her maiden name of Judith Simons, in the swinging sixties, Judith was the first female pop journalist in a male dominated profession. For many years she had her own column in the Daily Express. She was a confidante of the Beatles and was the inspiration to the title of the song "Hey Jude". She passed away a week ago at the age of 93. Her husband Gerhard (Gary) Boehm died in 2001; Judith had no children of her own but is survived by a stepson..
Extract from the Daily Telegraph obituary: Related through her extended Jewish family to the mother of the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, she also entered the band’s inner circle by becoming a confidante of Lennon’s beloved Aunt Mimi. And just before the release of Hey Jude, a colleague of the Beatles publicist Derek Taylor told Judith that the song was named after her. McCartney later explained that it had been written for Lennon’s son Julian to comfort him after his parents split up. But on her 90th birthday in 2015, Judith Simons received a congratulatory email from the great singer-songwriter that began: “Dear Judith, or should I say ‘Hey Jude’?”. Judith Simons, known as Judy or Jude, was born in Sheffield on February 25 1925, the only child of a cabinet-maker, Hyman (Hymie) Simons and his wife Sarah (Sonia), née Bloom...
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EAMONN FARRELLY 30th October 1941 - 4th August 2017
Linda Bird: 'I am very sad to report that one of our members, Eamonn Farrelly, passed away on Friday 4th August having suffered a massive stroke two days previously. He was very popular with the members of the LSL in South London. His funeral was held on Thursday 17th August at The South London Crematorium in Streatham. Eamonn was 75 years old. He had two daughters and one son, and two sisters and one brother. He had an extensive general knowledge and was very well read. He enjoyed a weekly game of golf and was an active member of his local U3A which is how he came to join the LSL. His local branch has a Scrabble group at which he met Shirley Cave and I think it was a result of meeting her that he was encouraged to join the League. Eamonn was a very competitive player, always cheerful and gracious whether he won or lost. He was well-known for his exemplary good manners. His death was a great shock for all of us and he will be much missed.
Rachel Bingham (London League IT Development): Very sad. I last played Eamonn in July and he was in fine form. RIP Eamonn.
Betty Balding (London League member): I was so sorry to hear the sad news. I also played him online and will miss our games. Such a nice man.
Pana Pugalia (London League member): Saddened to learn of Eamonn's passing. He was a true gentleman, always courteous and pleasant. His Scrabble friends will miss him..
Maggie Fleming (London League member): I was shocked to learn of the untimely death of Eamonn Farrelly. In the relatively short time he was a member of the London Scrabble League, I had the pleasure of playing in many fixtures either meeting him on the circuit or regularly at my home. Eamonn was always ready to step in if a fourth was needed and to enable me to play at his home in Mitcham he would meet me half way in his car. Quite often, it was four ladies and Eamonn. He would remark that "you ladies are pussycats but when you play Scrabble you turn into dinosaurs!" It made us all laugh (and so true!). Eamonn was very popular with those of us who play south of the river, and we will miss him very much..
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CHARLES GALE 1935-2017
Jake Berliner passed on the sad news about Charles Gale, a former member, who passed away recently. Charles last played in the winter season of the League in 2011/2012.
The picture was taken after Charles won the Most Improved Player prize in October 2008- March 2009.
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Sandie Simonis (London League Secretary): 'So very sad to pass on the news that our ex-member Brenda Young passed away on Wed 16th March. I first met Brenda about 4 years before ‘the stroke’. She was a divorced working mum to young Shelby aged about 5. I always enjoyed my Scrabble evenings with her and we became friends. When Shelby, now 21, was 9 Brenda had a massive stroke which left her fighting to regain some mobility and determined to continue to look after her daughter. On leaving hospital she was unable to return to her 1st floor maisonette and was initially housed in a hotel, then a ground floor flat and then finally another ground floor maisonette which became their home. Nothing has been easy in the intervening years but Brenda fought on with determination and lack of self-pity. Brenda always signed off on her emails to me with 'on an adventure, before dementia - God bless you’ I am so going to miss her.
Ann Chivers (London League member): So very sad to lose my good friend of many years' standing. Brenda never complained, was positive, upbeat and minimised her many problems. She was always such good company which I will greatly miss. My thoughts and love are with you, Shelby. And Brenda, as you always ended your conversations with me.... God bless you.
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Mauro Pratesi (London League Newsletter Editor and Chairman): I had heard from Marian Hamer, via Sandra Weston’s daughter, that Sandra was suffering from a rare form of CJD and was in the London Neurology Hospital. Her life expectancy was not good and eventually was moved to a hospice. Sadly she passed away on 22nd December 2016 at St Francis Hospice. The funeral was on 4th January at Forest Park Crematorium.
I used to play at her home in Barkingside in my early playing years. Then having not seen her for many years was so heartbroken to see her in a wheelchair at Kelvedon Hatch for a tournament in 2013.
We all are thinking of her and her family during this sad time.
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The family informed the League: 'Our darling Mother, Irene Trenner, a long time member of the London Scrabble League, sadly passed away on Sunday 18 December in Barnet Hospital following a short illness. Irene suffered dementia in her later years, when she lived in a care home, but although she could no longer play league Scrabble she retained her sense of humour to the end. She is sadly missed..
Viv Bishop (London League Fixture Organiser): Saddened to learn last night that one of our old members Irene Trenner passed away last Saturday. Always a welcoming host she spent the last 2 years of her life in a care home.
Sandie Simonis (London League Secretary): Also sad to hear of Irene’s passing. I was an occasional visitor to her home during the several years she was a League member. Like Viv, I too found her to be a warm and welcoming host.
Irene Kahan (London League member): As well as sharing the same name, Irene and I shared quite a close friendship for some years - which was initiated over a scrabble game. In fact it was Irene who introduced me into the London Scrabble League and we spent a lot of retirement leisure time together (not always with our tile racks.) Irene was a lovely lively lady with a great dry humour and was a popular and welcoming host. She will be sadly missed..
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Gloria Stein (London League member) informed the League's Newsletter Editor: Older members who remember Gordon Kinchington may want to know that Gordon sadly passed away Wednesday 23rd November 2016 at the age of 82.
He was a close friend of my late husband Neil, playing both golf and Scrabble on a regular basis with him. Besides this though, he was much loved and thought very highly of throughout the south by many players. His funeral was at Eltham Crematorium on Friday 16th December.
Condolences go to his wife Ann and all the family. R.I.P. Gordon.
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RUTH MORGAN-THOMAS 17 July 1957-13 June 2016. . . .
Rachelle Whiteoak (former London League member) informed the League's Newsletter Editor: I have just heard that my dearest friend Ruth Morgan-Thomas died in her sleep last night. As most of you know, Ruth suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for many years leaving her completely disabled and reliant on twenty-four hour care. I visited Ruth regularly and she was the bravest person I know, never complaining and always pleased to see you. Although in the last year or so Ruth found it difficult to speak, I would talk to her about our Scrabble adventures and experiences and we nearly always ended up laughing. Ruth was one of the best female Scrabble players in her day and I know how much it affected her when she had to finally stop playing. Condolences to her father Harold and son Daniel. Rest in peace Ruth, I am going to miss you so much.
Robert Richland (former London League member): I had known Ruth since I joined the London League in 1984 (when she was Ruth Erskine). She was a fearsome player in her day, quickly attaining Expert status in the early years of the rating system. Ruth and I frequently played friendlies (usually a limber-up when a tournament was looming), and we were both in the same NSC KO team for several years, initially with Philip Nelkon and later with Bob Violett. She also possessed one of the most infectious giggles I have ever heard, usually in response to one of my many impersonations! Sincere sympathy to her dad Harold, son Daniel and her sister Lucy. RIP Ruth ... there are some very happy Scrabble memories with you that I can look back on.
Sandie Simonis (London League Secretary): So very sad to hear that former London Scrabble League member Ruth Morgan-Thomas died in her sleep last night. She had suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for many years. Ruth was a formidable Scrabble player and only gave up playing when her illness made it impossible to continue. Ruth’s father, Harold Robinson, will be remembered by some of you as the one time Membership Secretary of the LSL. The last time I saw Ruth was by chance. I had been visiting Snaresbrook Court on my way to a Middlesex League match in Fairlop last year and spotted Ruth in the window seat of a tea shop opposite Snaresbrook Station, somewhere she loved to go. I popped in to say hello. Ruth, although clearly very disabled, in a wheelchair and with a carer was warm, welcoming and chatty, still with a good sense of humour and with a much better memory than mine. Condolences go to Harold and to Ruth’s son Daniel who some of you might remember doing brilliantly on University Challenge a couple of years ago.
Jackie McLeod (former London League member): I am so sad to have lost yet another dear friend dating back to the early days of Scrabble in the UK. I believe Ruth (nee Robinson, then Erskine, then Morgan-Thomas) joined the Scrabble scene when still in her teens, and was in her time a very able and highly respected player. As a friend, she was always a delight to be with, and even in the later years when she became so terribly disabled with Multiple Sclerosis, her schoolgirl laugh did not leave her. So brave and stoical over so many years. Rest in peace, Ruth, and my sympathies to Daniel and Harold in particular.
Darryl Francis (former London League member): So sad to hear about Ruth. I have very fond memories, indeed. She was a very strong player right back in the days of the London Scrabble League, when we used to meet in the Bayswater Bridge Club. Ruth acted as my accountant for a number of years, too. Many condolences to Harold and Daniel.
She was buried at Western Cemetery, Cheshunt on Wednesday 15th June. Martin and Sandie Simonis and fellow Scrabble players: Chris Keeley, Mike and Rachelle Whiteoak, Mike Willis, Jackie McLeod and Angela Evans attended the funeral. It was heartbreaking to see Harold Robinson looking incredibly frail in a wheelchair but his mind was still sharp.
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TONY BENSON 7 October 1928 - 1st June 2016
Pat Taylor (London League member) informed the League's Newsletter Editor: I have very sad news about former member Tony Benson. He passed away on 1st June from cancer of the pancreas. He was 87 years old..
Tony had been a League member in the eighties and early nineties. His name appears in the League address list from 1980 and he was Scrabble Pairs Champion in October, 1983. Also in 1983 he won the London Open Scrabble Trophy for High Word Score.
In his final season: October 1991-March,1992, Tony finished 110th overall having played four games with an average score of 387 and average points of 8.25.
Deepest condolences go to his wife Pauline and the rest of their family. R.I.P. Tony.
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We were sorry to hear that Lis Shepheard died on 27th May having suffered with heart problems for the last two years and more recently with leg ulcers which led to septicaemia.
Lis had a wide vocabulary, enhanced by her knowledge of several foreign languages and will be missed by those who played her in LSL matches and the Aylesbury Scrabble Club which she joined about fifteen years ago, having moved from Rugby where she had run the Rugby Scrabble Club for many years.
From an unpublished profile dating back to 2006: She had been playing Scrabble for half a century. “I used to teach French, Spanish and Portuguese and preferred to learn my words through playing Scrabble”. She added: “I am just a retired person who enjoys Scrabble very much, but I am not very competitive”.
Her first tournament was Leicester in 1980 and her highest single game score had been 608 scored on September 1992 with a scroll from the Rugby Club to prove it. R.I.P. Lis.
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DIANA PAYNE 24 May 1927-13 May 2016
Robert Richland (former London League member) informed the League's Newsletter Editor: Sadly yet another London League figure passed away. Diana Payne died on Friday 13th May. She was 88. Diana was in the League up until the early 1990s before she, and her husband Gordon, moved to Cambridge. Her cousin is another former London League member Martin Bloomberg.
Mauro Pratesi London League Chairman added: Diane (and husband Gordon) used to live in Hycliffe Gardens geographically one road down from Chigwell's Victory Hall where the Chigwell Drives are held.
In those days we were playing for high scores and Diana was regularly on the high scoring chart of each month racking up scores of 627, 629, 633 (a game which included 12 bonuses) and probably her highest; 646.
She also appeared regularly in the high scoring words charts too with words like JAZZY for 110 and CAJOLING for 194. Her highest score of 212 for SNEEZERS in the season October 1989-March 1990 was beaten into second place by John Morrisey who played CAZIQUES for 302!! Her last recorded "unusual words" in the Newsletter were AUROCHS and QUAHOG.
In her last full season (October 1991-March 1992) she finished 35th having played eighteen games and averaged 423 and finished with 14.19 average points. In the following season (April-September 1992) she had been 74th having played 13 games having averaged 400 points per game but alas she was not featured in the final League table of that season.
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BARBARA WHITTLE 1928-2015
We are very sad to report that former member Barbara Whittle passed away on Tuesday 9th November 2015. Barbara had been a member for over 25 years having joined us in November 1989. She won an MIP prize in her second season. Her last match was earlier in 2015. The funeral was on 26th November.
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Linda Bird (London Scrabble League): "It is with deep regret I have to inform the League that Joy Hewgill, a very long standing and much loved member of the LSL died on the morning of 30th May 2015 in Emily Jackson Nursing Home in Sevenoaks Kent. I think she was 92 years old and had been suffering from cancer for some time. Along with her sister Amber who pre-deceased her Scrabble was very much part of her life".
Kim Phipps (London Scrabble League): "The first time I met Joy was at my first match in the London Scrabble League, the others were her sister Amber and Ron Hendra. It was the first of many happy enjoyable matches with her. Joy could play a mean game of Scrabble, I recall one evening sitting next to her at Mike Lott’s home when she played five bonus words in one game all scoring the same. She even had a further bonus on her rack that would not go down!
Many happy times were spent playing in her garden, often with Isabelle McLean. We shared some happy New Year and other celebrations with other Scrabble friends at Linda Bird’s home. Joy was an inspirational woman. Having raised two children in the UK and India, on return to Dulwich she worked as a social worker for many years. By the time we met she had retired from paid work and was living in her cottage in Kent. No rest for Joy, well into her 80’s she worked weekly in both the hospice shop in Seven Oaks, and the local hospital shop. She played bridge with 'the girls' several times a week, travelled up to London to matches in the LSL and still found time to entertain friends, run her home and tend to her garden.
Joy sadly became unwell with cancer last year, which made walking difficult and she was no longer able to manage at home. She spent time in various hospitals and finally in a nursing home. Earlier this year, Linda Bird and I played Scrabble with her there and she got a bonus. In recent months she became increasingly unwell and died peacefully on 30th May with her son at her side. A fine life led by a wonderful lady who will be greatly missed".
Danny Bekhor (London Scrabble League): "I was very sorry to hear of the very sad news about Joy. I first knew her from the London Scrabble League where we had some great evenings. She was a lovely and very kind person with a wonderful personality. She used to kindly pick up Barbara Allen and myself in her car from outside Purley station to drive us to Gloria and Neil's when they had their Scrabble tea parties and drove us back to the station afterwards. She was truly remarkable for her age and was very active right up to her 90s. She used to drive, play Bridge and was a very good Scrabble player. Sadly in recent years she became very ill. She will be sadly missed by all of us".
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NEIL STEIN 1930-2015.
Neil died on 11th May after suffering with cancer and having endured several months of chemotherapy. He was born in Croydon, Surrey on 20th February 1930 and has been together with his his partner, Gloria, for 34 years. He had been playing Scrabble for over thrity years but could not remember exactly when he joined the London Scrabble League. His highest ever score was 668 in September 1993 and his highest word was ANTIQUES for 293 in a non-League game. His PRATIQUE for 203 in May 2005 won him a Gold Word Scroll for that season. He played 'Go' for England in Japan at the International tournaments of 1963 and 1964 and reached the National Final (top 20) once in the Times Crossword Championship during the 1990s. Neil was unfortunate to play Julian Hough during his 'octochamp' run in his only 'Countdown' appearance in 1985. His other TV appearances included 'Catchword', '15-1' and 'Crossword on 2' where he was a winner for 11 weeks.
Linda Bird (London Scrabble League): "Neil was a very clever man who had lectured in accountancy and had written a large number of text books on that subject. After his retirement from lecturing he continued his involvement with accountancy by marking the exam papers of the final year students.
He also had an interest in cookery and had taken courses at The Manoir des Quatres Saisons and at Rick Steins cookery school. I attended small Scrabble gatherings at his house on many occasions and he always produced either the best curry or paella I had ever had the pleasure to eat.
He had a passion for words and completed the Times cryptic crossword every day. His knowledge of words made him a formidable opponent at Scrabble. Not only did he have a huge vocabulary but he also knew the meanings of all the words he used.
Like many of us Neil could be described as a Scrabble addict or, rather more accurately, a word addict. His skill at the game was not only due to his phenomenal vocabulary but also because, unlike many of his opponents, he had taken the trouble to explore the meanings of the words so knew from which part of speech an unfamiliar word was derived. This meant he understood whether or not a word he wished to play would take a particular suffix. If an unfamiliar word was played by his opponent Neil would jump up and dive for the dictionary to discover its meaning. For we ordinary mortals these skills made him incredibly difficult to defeat. In fact, I think it would be fair to say that unless his opponent was blessed with all the esses, both blanks and most of the high scoring letters they didn’t stand a chance!
After he and Gloria moved to Purley they dropped out of the LSL but frequently, on bank holiday weekends Neil and Gloria would welcome their friends to Scrabble tea parties at their home. These were always enjoyed by a group of around 12 other such addicts. Although competitive and because Neil and Gloria were such excellent hosts these parties were always jolly occasions with a delicious tea provided in the middle of the afternoon. Prizes were awarded at the end to the 3 players with the highest scores plus an extra mystery prize for the player who had a score which matched the one that Neil had previously decided upon.
It was as a result of his interest in Scrabble that he first met Gloria, She had started a Scrabble club in Kent and Neil came along to the first meeting. As he was the only man present Gloria was immediately attracted to him. There is a famous photo of the other people present that Neil would show to friends. Amongst a group of rather frumpy, elderly ladies the younger, glamorous Gloria stood out. It wasn’t long before they became an item and the rest is history. They continued to share a love of Scrabble throughout the many years of their relationship.
Neil will be much missed by the Scrabble fraternity but the help and friendship he has given to many of us will live on in the future".
Danny Bekhor (London Scrabble League): "The first time I saw Neil was on a television programme called Catchword where he achieved the highest ever score on the programme. I later got to know Neil personally through the London Scrabble League. He was highly intelligent, a very good Scrabble player and brilliant at crossword puzzles. On his 70th birthday I got him some fiendishly difficult crossword puzzles which he completed mastered. He used to do the Times crossword in record time. He was a connoisseur of fine wines and delicious food and went with his partner Gloira to many of the top restaurants. He also acquired great cooking skills. Gloria and Neil were wonderful hosts and invited a number of us to their Scrabble tea parties which were great fun. He will be sadly missed by all of us".
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ISABELLE McLEAN 1927-2015.
Former member Isabelle McLean died on 9th March 2015.
Kim Phipps (London Scrabble League): "Isabelle was born in Greenoch, Scotland on 7th January 1927. She had 2 sisters and one brother. Sadly her mother died when she was very young, and the family were brought up by their father.
Isabelle came down to London with her sister Jessie when she was 21 years old, and continued to live here. Initially living in a girls' hostel, where she met many of her lifelong friends, she had some great tales to tell of the escapades they all got up to. She always lived in the Chelsea area, and eventually moved to her apartment in Redcliffe Gardens.
She worked in the city for a Turkish shipping line and enjoyed her work. When she retired she worked for the Crime Prevention Office as a volunteer and met some interesting people at the fancy lunches she was invited to.
She was an early member of the League and thoroughly loved her Scrabble evenings, taking 'those little bits of points' rather than changing tiles. Many of us have enjoyed visiting her apartment in Chelsea for a fun match evening. She was a welcoming hostess, and very kind to new players.
Isabelle loved the London buzz and was a keen visitor of the theatre, cinema, live comedy, exhibitions, parks, markets etc.
She was a great friend to me over the nearly 30 years I knew her, and we had a lot of fun times together. It was sad to see her decline into the world of dementia over the past six years, the latter four spent in a care home.
She was buried in a woodland grave in Brighton, at the same site as both of her sisters (which was her wish). Rest in peace my friend".
Danny Bekhor (London Scrabble League): "I was very sorry to hear the news that Isabelle had sadly passed away. We joined the London Scrabble League at the same time in 1985. She was a very good friend and neighbour and had a wonderful personality and a great sense of humour and we had many laughs together. We played many League Scrabble games at her flat as well as many friendly games and shared a chalet at the Isle of Wight Scrabble Tournament a few years ago before she became ill. She will be greatly missed".
Ed Martin (Former League member - taken from UKScrabble group mailing list): "I was very sad to read on the London Scrabble League website that Isabelle Maclean passed away. I have many happy memories of London Scrabble League fixtures with Isabelle in the early 1990s. She was a generous and vivacious opponent with a fabulous sense of humour. There were always fewer LSL members in our part of London (West/South West) than the more well-populated North, so it was a comparatively close and smallish group that met for fixtures. I remember many happy evenings with Isabelle and her other regular opponents of that era e.g. Kim Phipps, Hartley Moorhouse, Ron Hendra, Mike Lott, David Trace, Viv Griffith, Danny Bekhor, Ash Haji, the Saldanhas and others. I last saw Isabelle some years ago at a tournament in New Malden and I don't think she played at all in her last years. RIP".
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SHEILA HOCKEY 1933-2014. .
Jackie McLeod (former LSL secretary and newsletter editor): "It comes with great sadness to inform the League that Sheila Hockey has died at the age of 80, peacefully at home after a short illness. Sheila was one of the very first members of the London Scrabble League from its inception in 1971, and only discontinued her membership for this current season due to failing health. She was a very active member of LSL for most of this time, and indeed for many years served as Secretary on the LSL committee. She was also proud of having being one of the first to sign up for the ABSP when it was founded, and had a very low ABSP membership number".
Sandie Simonis (LSL secretary): "I just wanted to say how sorry I was to hear of Sheila’s passing. I don’t remember when I first met her but it would have been around 1986. Sheila was a founder member of the London Scrabble League and for many years its Secretary. I joined the committee a few years later and soon realised Sheila knew how a committee should be run, not only always following correct procedures, doing excellent minutes (typewritten not word processed!) but providing a home cooked roast dinner for us all as well! Those were the days. Smoking codes preferences prevented us seeing each other for many years but the late Di Dennis persuaded me to play a fixture at her flat in Watford two or three years ago. I then caught up with her again on the very sad occasion of Di’s funeral. Sheila often put the fear of God into me but her heart was definitely in the right place. Family was so important to her as was doing the ‘right thing’. Sincere condolences to her daughters Susan and Ruth".
Priscilla Encarnacion (LSL member): "I have a lot to thank Sheila for since I joined the LSL in 1983. She was my mentor and encouraged me to be brave and not to get intimidated when paired with known good players. When I had the misfortune of having been mugged and afraid to go out in the evening, she put me up for the nights I had fixtures with her as well as feeding me. Sheila will always be in my thoughts and prayers. My deepest sympathy and condolences to Ruth and Susan for their loss".
Terry Kirk (former LSL Chairman and newsletter editor): "I'm saddened to hear that, Jackie. Some of my very first London League matches were at Sheila's when I first moved to London in the late 1980s. I also remember LSL Committee meetings held around the table in Sheila's kitchen. Sheila was a very kind-hearted woman, who fed us very well whenever we were there for Scrabble. I also enjoyed her stories of the early days of the LSL and many of the characters that played. Condolences to her family".
Darryl Francis (former LSL member): "So sorry to hear about Sheila. I first met Sheila in the mid-1970s, when the London Scrabble League used to meet in the Grand Slam Bridge Club in Bayswater. I remember many enjoyable Scrabble evenings at Sheila's house in Montrose Avenue, Queen's Park. There was always comings and goings at Sheila's house while we were playing Scrabble - husband John and Sheila's daughters and their boyfriends would breeze in and out. I remember Sheila always taking in an interest in my two daughters, Jade (b 1981) and Ellie (b 1984), and always asking how they were. Condolences to Sheila's family.".
Allan Simmons (former LSL member): "Sheila was one of the first LSL hosts I went to when I first joined the league in 1976 and I still remember that occasion well. She and I have exchanged Christmas cards ever since and I was pleased to have met her and chatted to her again relatively recently (2012) albeit at another sad occasion (Di Dennis' funeral)".
Robert Richland (former LSL member, Treasurer and Drive organiser): "I first met Sheila at my third ever London League match, oddly enough, exactly 30 years ago to the day before the sad news about her was conveyed... 2nd July 1984. Sheila said that day that she had a great aptitude for spotting which Scrabble newbies would stay the course (and which wouldn't)... she somehow instinctively knew I fell into the former bracket! Sheila was London League Secretary from the League's inception in 1971 right up until 1987, and remained on the League Committee for several years after that. The most apt phrase that springs to mind that describes Sheila is "firm but fair". She was never afraid to express her opinion, indeed many of us could be put in our place if she had a bone to pick with us, but she also had a soft, sympathetic persona that emanated with any League member who was upset or concerned about something or someone. Many other long-standing Scrabblers across the UK (who were never LSL members) will, like myself, be very sad to hear the passing of another of the "old guard" of competitive UK Scrabble. RIP Sheila".
Mike Willis (former LSL member and Newsletter editor): "Very sad news. I used to go to Sheila’s house regularly from when I joined the LSL in 1978 and you were always guaranteed a fun evening. Both Sheila and her late husband John were very down to earth people who just got on with things with no airs and graces. For a time in the early 80s I worked as a train driver at Queen's Park depot and many times I went for a few social games after work. There was an excellent chippy by the station and I frequently took orders for fish suppers. When I wrote the very early London League Newsletters Sheila helped by editing and typing them up for me (word processers were expensive and exotic back then and email had yet to be invented). When I first started typing the newsletter myself she was on hand to give practical advice which I still remember now. Oh and one last thing, she had a mnemonic for the then new word JIAO – John Is Always Out (referring to her very busy husband who had so many interests!) – which is typical of her humour, I can hear her laughing now. Good memories RIP Sheila".
Rachelle Whiteoak (former LSL member): "Very sorry to hear about Sheila. I first met Sheila at a tournament at the University Arms in Cambridge in the early 80's. I remember sitting with Myra Nelkon, Pat MacBean and Sheila for dinner, sadly all three have now passed on. I served on the London League Committee with Sheila, she was not afraid to say exactly what she thought but she had a lovely caring soft side as well. I will miss her, RIP".
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Lou Brundell died early yesterday (Sunday 25th August) morning, following a heart bypass two weeks ago. There was a post mortem before funeral arrangements were to be made. The funeral is to be held on Friday 13th September at St Mary's Church, Diss.
Janet Bonham (London Scrabble League Membership Secretary and Aylesbury Scrabble Club): "I first met Lou about twenty years ago, when I joined Aylesbury Scrabble Club, shortly before she was forced, by increasingly reduced hearing, to relinquish her post as a teacher at a private school in High Wycombe. She was a very keen Scrabble player and all in the Club learned at least the figures in sign language to help her. Eventually she moved home to Diss to live with her ageing mother, but she still visited High Wycombe at least once a month, to play Scrabble with Janet Palmer, Sue Bullock (one-time London League members), Graham and myself and to play the occasional London League match. With the inception of Scrabble on line a new world opened up to her and she joined Facebook and was able to play an even wider group of like-minded Scrabble enthusiasts. She ran the Diss Scrabble Club for several years until numbers reduced so much that it was disbanded.
About three years ago she had a cochlear implant fitted, which was a great blessing, enabling her not only to be able to use the telephone again but to go to the theatre, musical concerts, etc. For several years she was a voluntary worker for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and covered many miles in Norfolk every year, accompanied by a ‘translator’, giving talks to Women’s Institute groups, etc. and selling Christmas cards and the like on behalf of the Charity.
She loved dogs and for a few years after leaving teaching she became a “dog-sitter” whilst owners were away. When her brother and sister-in-law died, Lou was delighted to take on Sophie, their white Westie. She adored Sophie, once saying to me, after her mother had died, “Sophie is all I have left in the world now”. At this time she had to restrict herself to one-day tournaments as she didn’t like to leave the dog too often but she did have friends who helped out while she went to such tournaments as those organised by Cindy Hollyer and Kevin Synnott.
She will be missed by all who knew her. Certainly those of us in Aylesbury will never forget her expression “I’ve never seen that in all my life!” when words with which she was unfamiliar were played.
We are sorry to have lost you, Lou. Rest in peace".
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MARY ELIZABETH LINDSAY 1931-2013.
It is with deep regret to inform members that Mary Lindsay passed away on Monday 20th March 2013. She was rushed back into hospital with a blood problem, which could not be cured. Her funeral is on 5th April at St Peters Church, Aldborough Hatch, Ilford at 2.00pm. She was born on 8th June 1931 and would have been 82 in June. She had played on a Travel Scrabble set on holiday in Corsica before answering an advertisement in a newspaper by Pat MacBean who was running the Redbridge Scrabble Club. Mary joined on it's opening night in 1980 and eventually joined the London League in 1988 prior to Redbridge folding. Her husband Keith acted as her chauffeur on most of the occasions Mary had to travel to get to matches for the London Scrabble League, tournaments (especially the Nottingham Nomads) and the Romford Club. Mary was born in Coulsdon, Surrey. She gained minor honours in table tennis and her highest tournament placing came in the days of high-scoring Scrabble tournaments where she finished second.
Sandie Simonis (Secretary LSL): "I never had the opportunity to play her in the League but met her and Keith at many tournaments over the years. They were such a warm and friendly couple and I'm sure Mary will be much missed by all who knew her".
Len Edwards (Romford SC): "Mary was a regular at Romford SC until she became too ill to attend. It still comes as a shock and is very sad to hear she has died. I am sure everybody at the club who knew her will feel similarly. Thoughts are also with Keith who has been devoted to her".
Robert Richland (former member): "Keith and Mary were very regular attendees of the much missed Nottingham Nomads weekends. Mary played in the games whilst Keith helped with Clive and Sheila in the score-keeping of all the games in each group. Many condolences to Keith".
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JENNIFER TUROVSKIJennifer was due to play at Freda Marcus' on Tuesday 13 November but did not turn up and had been uncontactable. She lived alone and when she failed to come into work the following day a friend went round to her home and found her dead in bed. She had not been very well over the last few months. Her body would have been given for medical science but as an autopsy was involved this was now not possible. Jennifer was cremated at the Golders Green Cemetery on Monday 26th November. Her family are in America, she was South African.
Andrew Hoffbrand (Chairman Hendon Golf Club): "It is with great sadness that I write to let you know of the passing away yesterday of Jennifer Turovski. Jennifer had been very poorly for some time although her passing yesterday was rather sudden. Jennifer was one of our most flamboyant members and had a tremendous passion for the game of golf and only ever played golf with a pink ball. She will be greatly missed by all Members who knew her".
Ashley de Safrin: "I was saddened but not entirely surprised to hear that Jennifer Turovski had passed away. I have played her regularly throughout the last 15 years and, when I saw her recently after she had left the League for a while and returned, she looked very unwell. She admitted she had had kidney failure. Sadly this is never a positive prognosis for a long life. Jennifer used to come to my fixtures quite often and I got to know her quite well. She was one of the members who enjoyed Scrabble for its social rather than its competitive factor. She never minded if she lost (which happened quite often!), yet she was often quietly impatient of slow players. Jennifer was a good business woman managing and renting out property on behalf of overseas owners. I know that she was also a dog lover as she always enquired after my dog when I saw her elsewhere. Jennifer was quite a character and I will certainly miss her".
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It is with deep regret to inform members that Myra Nelkon passed away on Monday 5th November 2012 after a long illness. She had not played in the London Scrabble League for many years. Many older members will remember her.
Philip Nelkon: "Myra spent her early life in Stoke Newington, attending the prestigious Highbury Grammar School from the age of 11. She joined the Civil Service at 16 and worked there until her daughter - Susan’s birth, at which time she had an important job as head of a large group of comptometer operators. Myra was a cheerful and friendly person. Her greatest interest was her family and her children. She was a fantastic mother to Susan & Philip – devoted and caring. She liked to get involved in everything they did and she was tenacious in her support for them. Her grandchildren, particularly, were her pride and joy.
It’ll come as a surprise that as a young woman, Myra was an enthusiastic and capable hockey player and was always interested in sport. She liked to take her children to Lords and particularly – Wimbledon. She was also a keen crossword solver and introduced the family to Scrabble in 1966 during a wet holiday in Bournemouth.
My Mum and I played Scrabble most days at home and we joined the London Scrabble League in 1978. The tournament scene, based on high score Scrabble, was just starting and we travelled together to a number of tournaments in the 1980’s. She was a strong player then, qualifying for the high score Masters Championships (at that time a competition for the top 40 rated players in the country) on 2 occasions. In the first Masters Championships she led after 4 games having scored over 660 against a certain Mark Nyman. She continued playing in the League up to the late 1990’s.
Myra was able to enjoy a full and active life well into her 80’s but sadly her health deteriorated over the last 5 years. She lived to 90 years of age and was married to Charles for 59 years up to his death in 2008".
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DI DENNIS.. . .
It is with deep regret to inform members that Di Dennis lost her fight to cancer and passed away on Thursday 4th October 2012. Only family and close friends knew of her illness and her wish was not to let it be widely known. Once the news of Di's passing was known tributes flowed from current and former League members some of which have been reproduced below. Di was buried at Chiltern Woodland Burial Park, Beaconsfield on Monday 15th October.
Elisabeth Jardine: "Having been travelling home from Turkey all yesterday evening and night, I was late to hear this shocking news. Di and I were friends for over 30 years. In the eighties we were opposing darts team captains, when I saw her on Countdown and said: 'How did you get on that? I've applied and haven't heard.' 'Through the London Scrabble League' says Di. 'What's that?' I asked. 'Come over Tuesday and I'll tell you!' So Di was my introduction to Scrabble and I learned that she was in the Guinness Book of Records for the highest accumulative score at a tournament.
I used to think that Di gained her Scrabble knowledge by Osmosis, as she was so cool, calm and laid back, but once, whilst staying with her before a WSC, I noticed 3 big A4 books under the coffee table, full of words she had been studying. When I moved down to Dorset Di was one of the regulars at our Osprey weekends. (You know who you are!) We will all truly miss her and hope that although the Scrabble world noticed her infrequent attendance recently, it meant that she got to enjoy her grandchildren who meant so much to her.
Rest in Peace Di, we all loved you and there are many tears being shed today".
Sandie Simonis: "I'm deeply saddened to hear this news. Like others I had no idea Di was ill having last seen her mid-May at a birthday celebration of a mutual friend in the London Scrabble League. At the time she looked well. I first met Di at the Countdown Studios in Leeds c 1985. During the lunch break Di was having a game of Scrabble with Mark Nyman. Both were members of the London Scrabble League and Mark was then on the Countdown Production team. I watched with interest inspired and somewhat overawed. Mark and Di encouraged me to join the London Scrabble League and the rest is history.
For some time Di and I barely spoke. Both competitive and strong-minded we fell out over something I can barely remember the details of now. Fortunately about 6 years ago we recovered the earlier friendship when we discovered we were both due to become grandmothers. Since then whenever we met we delighted in proudly showing photos and telling each other of the accomplishments of our wonderful grandchildren. To Di weekend Scrabble tournaments became a lower priority than spending time with her grandchildren.
My sincere condolences to Di's daughter Kate and to grandchildren Connor and Hannah. Rest in peace Di. We will miss you".
Terry Kirk: "So very sad to hear that Di Dennis has passed away. Many happy memories of our games over the years. She was always the hostess with the mostest in her flat in Watford".
Jackie McLeod: "I am so sad to have lost such a lovely friend. I must have known her for 30 years or more, and have many happy memories. Fiercely competitive Scrabble of course, Di was a formidable player (Grandmaster, WSC etc) and very active on the tournament scene until she became a granny, and weekends were from then on dedicated to spending time with the grandchildren, Conor and Hannah. I always looked forward to playing Di, whether in the London or Middlesex Leagues, at tournaments, or just socially. We kept in regular contact after my move to Yorkshire, and I am so pleased she was able to visit me here last October, and again in June this year - when she was fit and well. Always a delight to be with, with a great sense of fun. I shall miss her a lot. Deepest sympathies go to her daughter Kate, the children, and Di's sisters".
Darryl Francis: "This is indeed sad news. Di was a good friend and we must have spent hundreds of hours playing Scrabble over the years. I still remember the first time I met Di - it must have been 1977. She was about 8 and three-quarters months pregnant with Katie - Di arrived at my flat in Wandsworth for her first London League fixture, only to be told she'd misunderstood the fixtures list and that she needed to be at Norman and Elsie Kay's house in Ealing. She soon got the hang of the fixtures lists, and her Scrabble wasn't too bad either. My thoughts go out to Katie. Sad news".
Robert Richland: "Like everyone else, I was completely stunned when I heard the news of Di's passing. Wayne Kelly broke the very sad news to me at the Warrington club this evening, and, like Wayne, I had absolutely no idea how ill she was. Di possessed the most poker-faced demeanour I have ever witnessed when playing Scrabble. More than once against me she played a plausible (but phoney) word so calmly and coolly that the word stayed on the board unchallenged ! On her day, Di could be an unstoppable player, bonus-ing her way to several tournament wins over the years, not just in the modern matchplay era (from the late 1980s), but in the dim and distant high-score era, when she frequently recorded scores of 600+, sometimes 700+. UK Scrabble has lost a top-class player who richly deserved her Grand Master status. Di had turned 65 in August. Rest in peace, Di".
Allan Simmons: "I was absolutely shocked to hear this, especially with no inkling that Di was unwell. Like others who've been in the London League from the 70's I have many fond memories of Di as a great Scrabble host and highly competitive opponent. One of the top female stragetists at the game IMO. Just to remind everyone that DI won the very first matchplay Masters event (1991?) being unbeaten at the event I recall. So sad".
Wayne Kelly: "Di used to scare me witless in the first few times we played - she was a very strong player and took me a while to get the better of her. I didn't really know her on a social level until we had more time to socialise in Mumbai for the WSC2007. We travelled in a taxi ride where we were all shutting our eyes as the passing traffic was far too scary. When we arrived at the hotel they tried to put us all in one room! Di got that one and I got another, but poor Phil had to go to a sister hotel round the corner. Like most people I did not know Di was ill, but condolences to her family and to her friends within and outside of the Scrabble movement. Di and Helen [Gipson] are the only two female GM's though Theresa [Brousson] is not far off. Di achived her status in 1998, Helen in 2001 so Di was indeed the first.".
Phil Appleby: "As many others have said, this news came as a terrible shock. It's a few years since I've seen Di, but I have so many wonderful memories of her. She was one of the leading lights in the Scrabble world when I first started playing in the early 1980s. As well as being a damned good Scrabble player, she was glamorous and charming. A group of us, including Di, had several Scrabble holidays together - on one occasion hiring a barge, on another staying at the Appleby family cottage in Northumberland. Such good times...
Elisabeth mentioned Di's word-learning books. It's true that she did occasionally do some serious study, and when she did, for a while afterwards she would become almost unbeatable; I'm sure she must have had a photographic memory. But with work and family commitments, she didn't study anything like as much as most of the other top players; if she had done, who knows what she could have achieved. She was undoubtedly one of the most formidable players in the game, and for many years I lost far more games against Di than I won. It was only in the BEST Final of 2003 that I managed to reverse the trend, with a hard-fought 10-6 win.
This is such a sad time for the Scrabble fraternity. RIP, Di. ".
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Viv Bishop: "It is my sad duty to report that after an illness lasting several months my dear friend and Scrabble opponent Doreen Clayton lost her fight with cancer and passed peacefully away on the afternoon of 28th August 2012. For the last few months of her life she had been cared for in a nursing home. Doreen never married and is mourned by her sisters, nieces and nephews as well as her "family" of Scrabble players. She was a regular attender of tournaments in the Greater London area. Last season Doreen was the most prolific Scrabble player in the London League, playing no less than 60 times! She will be sorely missed by her opponents in North and Northwest London. Her other main love was her pet pedigree cat Muffin, who now lives with one of her sisters.
Doreen Clayton's funeral was held on Thursday 6th September at Golders Green Crematorium.".
Renée Gilbert: "It was with sadness that I received the news of Doreen's passing. She was a very private person, but nevertheless there is a small group of us in the LSL who became a little closer to her to the point where we did exchange telephone calls and chatted about things other then Scrabble. Her mobility became more and more difficult having to walk with two sticks, but she still continued to drive herself to a variety of fixtures. She was aware of her ill health a long time before finally succumbing to it. DOREEN - rest in peace.".
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It is with deep regret to inform members that Valery Jansen passed away in the early morning of Sunday 10th June 2012. While at her holiday home in Spain she suffered a brain haemorrhage. In spite of advanced treatment in a Spanish hospital she never recovered. She had won a trophy at New Malden (above right) for coming second in Division D and a trophy for winning Division D at Aylesbury (above left) - both earlier this year!
Barbara Green: "Valery was born in Bristol to parents who had both worked ‘below stairs’. It is remarkable that she was to become an academic considering her humble beginning. Valery began working life as a school teacher. She taught in England and then in Finland for a short time. When she returned to England she became a lecturer in a teacher training college.
She then became a lecturer in sociology at Birmingham University and later at the Open University where she taught criminology. Many of her students stayed in touch with her because her insights, her warm, generous personality and teaching style were inspiring and enriched their lives. On a personal note Valery became one of my closest friends. We enjoyed many holidays, trips and adventures together.
I was also lucky enough to know her four children and several of her seven grandchildren. Some years ago she bought a house in Granada, Southern Spain. She transformed the house so that her family and friends could stay there.
Valery introduced me to the London Scrabble League for which I am grateful as it has added another dimension to my life. Playing Scrabble became very important to her over the last 3 or 4 years. Reading was also important to her and she would always have books on the go. Literature was her first degree and then she gained another first degree in sociology. Later she gained her MA describing the social conditions and division of labour in South West Africa. She visited there several times and was there to monitor the elections when the country became what is now, Namibia. She extended her work on Namibia and was awarded a PhD.
Valery kept up to date with world news and current affairs and had the “New Statesman” and a newspaper delivered to her door. She was particularly aware and sensitive to the situations of those who were subjected to social injustice.
She liked to welcome friends and ex students to her London home in Tottenham and enjoyed cooking for them. She especially enjoyed her family gatherings and celebrations and would cook splendid meals for them.
Valery’s influence has impacted on many lives and she will be greatly missed by her family and her friends both old and new".
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Viv Bishop: "More sad news of dearly departed. Alan Safier died suddenly on 22nd December of a heart attack. His funeral was held on Monday 27th December at the Jewish Cemetry in Cheshunt.".
Phil Black, close friend of Alan, ex LSL member and brother-in-law of Freda Marcus: "Members will be sorry to learn of the death shortly before Christmas of Alan Safier, a genial, unpretentious man. Alan had a formidable knowledge and appreciation of the arts. Taking early retirement from the Stationery Office, Alan spent his last years involved with Scrabble, Bridge, theatre going and cricket and helping others where he could. Alan passed up the chance of further education to help support his family when unemployment and early death struck his father. After National Service he devoted most of his free time helping his invalid mother; and when his only sister died kept up a close relationship with his brother-in-law, nephews and neice. For the last 10 years or so he had driven his disabled fellow Scrabbler friend and ex LSL member Jim Butler several times to Scrabble weekends at Eastbourne and other venues and to League fixtures. Alan discovered Scrabble in his late 50s, scoring 330 in his first ever game and going on to exasperate countless others by his habit of plucking critical words from the air, and never bothering to study. Alan’s extended family, friends and ex work mates and I am sure those he met in the Scrabble world will miss his cheery presence."
Mauro Pratesi: "I echo his cheery nature. When Jessica was born he congratulated us on our new arrival and misnamed her Jemima. Every time we met I reminded him of this and he always took the ribbing with good nature!"
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Alan Freeman passed away following surgery in hospital on 11th November. The funeral took place at Bushey Cemetery on Friday 12th November. Alan's profile was featured in Newsletter 205 March/April 2002
"Alan Freeman, now 73, has played Scrabble for over 40 years and joined the London League at it's inception. He played fortnightly in the League, but not elsewhere. His highest game score was 603 (in 1984) and his highest word score was SQUIRREL for 212 in 1990. Unfortunately the Gold scroll went to his son Harvey for CONQUEST for 302 in that particular season. He eventually won a gold high scoring word scroll for SEQUINED scoring 203 in the season April-September 1998. He twice won the Most Improved Player prize in the season October 1983-March 1984 and again in season October 1991-March 1992. He read modern languages and history at Cambridge University and retired as a tax inspector in 1993. His other interests included Bridge, solo singing, voluntary work for two charities, writing, art history, travel, compiling and solving crosswords, and French and Italian conversation. He was married with three children and five grandchildren. No one else in the family now plays Scrabble but many members will recall his son, Harvey, twice champion of the London League in the seasons October 1987-March 1988 and April-September 1991. Harvey had also won Series 10 of Countdown in 1986, Champion of Champions in 1987 and the Supreme Championship of Champions in 1996".
Pat Taylor: "I have been playing Scrabble with Alan for around 25 years, the last occasion was only three weeks before his sad passing. He was such a "gentleman" always soft spoken and so courteous, it was always a pleasure to be fixed with him, not to mention the fact that he had wonderful knowledge of words, I can't remember beating him in all the years. He had many outside interests and one of them was taking a Quiz to the residents at Rosetrees every Friday morning, I used to see him each week encouraging people to use their minds to answer his questions. He had a very dry wit and many times made fun of me and my attempts to invent words on the board but always with a "whimsical" smile, in fact I think he once played that against me. My Sympathy goes to his wife Myra and his family. He will be missed.
Harvey Freeman: "It is lovely to see that you have already announced our sad news, accompanied by a fitting tribute, on the LSL website. Dad introduced me in my early childhood (I had barely learnt to read and write!) to the delights of Scrabble, as well as cryptic crosswords, other word-games and language generally, and he was a constant guide and mentor through all my playing career. We played many League fixtures together, and we also entered the NSC together for quite a number of years (the local press in our area had an endless fascination with this father-and-son arrangement!) I would like to think that spending all this time with Dad 'on the tiles' instilled in me the sense of fun, sportsmanship and friendliness that this game (and indeed any other) is all about. We (the family) wondered if there was a possibility of endowing some kind of prize in Dad's memory. .
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Tributes which appeared on the London Scrabble League mailing list...
Tributes which appeared on the LSL Scrabble mailing list from members...
Sandie Simonis: "Even more sad news from the London Scrabble League. We have just heard that our long time member Ron Hendra passed away in his sleep on Sunday night. Right up until last week he was still playing regular LSL fixtures and his final position in the league (24th) with an average score of over 400 suggests he had lost none of his form. I'm not sure how old he was (>90 I think) but I know a guy who will - over to you Robert Richland. I remember Ron as a great Scrabble player (tournament and League) but also an affable gentleman. He was somewhat clumsy - tiles, teaspoons, coffee, indeed anything that could get knocked over usually did but that only added to his charm! Another very sad loss to the Scrabble world."
Sandie Simonis: "I'm afraid more sad news from the London Scrabble League. We heard today from her brother Peter, that Doreen Marsh, one of our long-time members and occasional tournament player has died suddenly. I'm not sure of her age but think she would have been in her late 70s. I hadn't seen Doreen for some time but remember her as a strong player, though not highly competitive. She didn't keep records about her Scrabble achievements, she just enjoyed playing the game. She had many other interests including reading, theatre and games such as chess and Trivial Pursuit. Doreen was always welcoming and cheerful in spite of health problems. She will be much missed by her many friends in the London Scrabble League."
Stephen Hunt (18th May 1939 - 2nd June 2009)
Amended profile from the London Scrabble League Newsletter issue 218/2003:
Amended profile from the London Scrabble League Newsletter issue 218/2003:
return to top | Article also featured in LSL Newsletter 290 - 2009
Gertie Roberts (1931-2009)
return to top | Article featured on website - June 2007
Article originally featured in LSL Newsletter 190 - 2000 (adjusted for website; 2006)
Graeme was involved in a fatal road traffic accident at approximately 01:30 this morning (4th November 2006). His car - apparently the only one involved - ran off the road into a tree, a couple of miles from his home in Hatfield.
Together with many others throughout the Scrabble fraternity, Aylesbury Scrabble Club is this week mourning the death of its leader, Edelle Crane, who died in the early hours of Sunday 15th May at the age of 61.
Article originally featured in LSL Newsletter 181 - 2000
Peter lives in Peterborough and a bout of ill-health has forced Peter to stop all League activities including being a committee member. Sheila Green became responsible for arranging fixtures. Peter does manage to play Scrabble occasionally at the Peterborough Scrabble Club.
It is with great sadness to inform members that on the morning of Saturday 11th June Peter Dean passed away in hospital at Peterborough. A "true" icon of the UK Scrabble scene if ever there was one. His word power of seven-letter words was second to none. His contributions to the London Scrabble League and the Postal Scrabble Club over the past thirty years just cannot be overestimated. Ill health caused him to limit his Scrabble greatly in recent years but still found time for Postal games and played Scrabble the day before he died winning the game by over 200 points!
return to top | Article featured on website - October 2005
Beroze Mody was born in Mumbai, India in 1938. She has two children and is a widow. With the sad passing of her husband she needed to get out more and to find other avenues.
Frank and Tilly Moss
Due to declining health Frank and Tilly have had to give up competing in the London League.
It will seem strange not seeing their names on league tables and word
Sheila Hockey ©1997 (London Scrabble League): As the first secretary of THE LONDON SCRABBLE LEAGUE (originally started life as the Greater London Scrabble League) formed in the latter part of 1971, I feel that I should write a tribute to Mike Goldman. Whatever feelings have existed over the past few years for whatever reasons, there is no denying the fact that all of us enjoy our Scrabble Evenings, Scrabble Tournaments and friendships made as a result of these occasions, and all due to an idea devised by Mike Goldman and Reg Lever. Their aim was to promote friendship and interest in Scrabble and improve the standard thereof. Mike sent out letters to individuals who took part in the first National Scrabble Championship. Thirty-one people responded to join the League, playing in two divisions, namely ACHILLES and BOADICEA. I think that Pat MacBean, Peter Dean and myself are the only survivors of the thirty-one still playing in the League.
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