Bideford CC mourn passing of Brian Champion

The late Brian Champion

The late Brian Champion had a 40-year association with Bideford Cricket Club - Credit: Bideford CC

Few people gave as much to cricket in as many ways as former Bideford Littleham & Westward Ho! CC chairman Brian Champion, who has died aged 85.

During a 40-year association with Bideford CC and the wider cricket community in North Devon, Champion was a player, colts coach, club administrator, umpire and youth league chairman – often at the same time!

Andy Davies, a former Bideford player and long-serving club treasurer, said Champion wasted no time taking on jobs after arriving at the club in the early 1980s.

“Brian joined in 1982 after moving from London and soon became involved in the running of the club,” said Davies.

“He played cricket in the Sunday 2nd XI and also the midweek side.

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“Brian soon became involved as colts cricket organiser and for many years was chairman of the North Devon Colts League. He was also heavily involved with the running of the district youth cricket programme.

“Being a very practical person, Brian became involved in various projects within the club. Back in 2009 he and I attended a Test match in Cardiff where we were both presented with an award from the ECB for services to youth cricket.

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“After his career ended as a player he took up umpiring and for many years he umpired for Bideford 2nd XI. He was the first winner of the Tony Miller award for umpires.”

The Tony Miller award for services to cricket was inaugurated by the Devon Association of Cricket Officials in 2014 in memory of a former Hatherleigh member who, like Champion, was a youth organiser and umpire.

Champion took over as Bideford chairman in 1993 and remained in the post until 2009. He had been made a life member of the club in 1994.

When club president Peter Adams died in 2014 Champion was invited to take over the role. He was still president at the time of his death.

“Brian was well respected within the cricket fraternity and his involvement continued until ill health prevented it,” added Davies.

Current chairman Rod Hannam said: “The hours that Brian gave to Bideford CC made him one of the greatest club men we have ever had. It is no surprise that Brian was one of only three honorary life members of the club.

“'Brian influenced so many members, both past and present, either as a team-mate, a coach, an umpire, club chairman or latterly as Club President and in every role he was both greatly liked and highly respected.

“With his infectious smile and great sense of humour the pavilion was always a jollier and friendlier place to be when Brian was present. I know I speak on behalf of every club member who ever met him when I say that Brian will be very deeply missed.”

Brian Champion was educated at Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School in Hertfordshire where he was a keen cricketer, footballer and rugby player.

He spent the War in London – he was never evacuated as his father was in the RAF at Biggin Hill – and in later life was not required to do National Service.

Champion worked as a design engineer for Marconi where he was involved in designing night sights for Chieftain Tanks as well as working on the Challenger 1 battle tank and Sea Wolf missiles.

His cricket career before moving to Devon was largely as an all-rounder with Billericay CC in Essex. Away from cricket Champion was a lifelong supporter of Tottenham Hotspur.

Brian Champion is survived by his wife Colleen – the couple were married for 61 years – and children Karen and Andrew.

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