Tributes pour in for cricket-mad Bideford servant Jolyon Huxtable

Jolyon Huxtable of Bideford CC

Jolyon Huxtable of Bideford CC - Credit: Archant

When Jolyon Huxtable enrolled son Tim in Bideford’s colts section as a youngster it was the start of a relationship that lasted 20 years – for dad!

It wasn’t Tim who became a long-standing member of the Westward Ho! club though, but his cricket-mad dad, who has died aged 73.

Tim Huxtable soon discovered he preferred watching cricket to actually playing it and got his enjoyment on the spectators’ side of the boundary rope.

Jolyon, a retired solicitor, had been interested in cricket since his time at Blundell’s School, Tiverton in the late 1950s and early 1960s. If he could not get in a team he was equally happy armed with coloured pencils in the score box.

Son Tim’s brief involvement with Bideford CC reawakened Jolyon Huxtable’s interest in grass-roots cricket. Over the next 20 years he was one of the club’s scorers, latterly for the 1st XI.

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Club members voted Jolyon Huxtable into position as club secretary before the 2013 season started. He stayed in office right up to his death from cancer on May 20.

Under the pen name ‘The Quill’, Huxtable was also the author of match reports posted on the Bideford CC website after matches.

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Rod Hannam, the Bideford CC chairman, said: ”’The Quill’s’ reports had gained a wide audience in Devon cricket. The reports became compulsory reading, not just for members of our club, but for many in the greater Devon cricketing community.

“His description of the game itself coupled with his witty observations and links to many of his favourite songs – usually from the 60s or 70s – became a much anticipated part of the cricketing weekend.

“Saturday nights or Sunday mornings will never be quite the same again.”

Hannam said Huxtable senior was the sort of hard-working clubman whose work behind the scenes makes cricket happen.

“He became an integral part of the squad on match days, always first to the ground to get set up and welcome the umpires and visiting team scorer,” he added.

“As club secretary, Jolyon was a huge support to me as chairman. I know my predecessor, Kevin Fishleigh, felt the same way.

“He was invaluable in helping to re-structure the club as a limited company and had recently, virtually single-handedly, re-written the club constitution.

“Over the last few years I was privileged to get to know ‘Joly’ well as a trusted and much respected friend. I will miss him greatly, as will all within the club who knew him.”

Huxtable had a second cricket job as scorer to the Devon Over-50s 2nd XI. The last game of his three-year stint with the team was the National Plate final against Middlesex at Trowbridge on September 5, 2019, which Devon lost.

Ian Hayter, a Bideford CC lifer, talked Huxtable into taking over as scorer when he was appointed captain of the county team. It was a decision he never regretted.

“Friendly, knowledgeable, witty, with an unrivalled passion for cricket and a love of an after-match gin and tonic, Jolyon’s enthusiasm for scoring and the sheer enjoyment he got out of it was infectious,” said Hayter.

“Jolyon scored almost every match for us over the last three seasons, was there for our greatest triumphs and our lowest moments – all with a positivity and a willingness to do it all again the following week.

“I shall miss him greatly, and his sense of humour.”

It did not take long for tributes to Jolyon Huxtable to start coming in from the extended cricket family.

John Silver, speaking for the North Devon Umpires and Scorers Association, said: “We here in the north of the county will miss him enormously. It feels as though we have lost a brother.

“‘Joly’, as he was fondly known, was very popular and well-known across the county in the Devon League. He was an excellent scorer and administrator, who was completely dedicated to recreational cricket, and a lovely man.”

Patrick McEndoo, one of Barnstaple & Pilton’s scorers, held Huxtable in high regard adding: “There are times when being cooped up in a small space for seven hours can be an ordeal, but this was not the case with Jolyon, who was one of the good guys.”

Nick Evanson, the scorers’ representative attached to the Devon Association of Cricket Officials, said: ““While I was aware of the gravity of the situation, Jolyon’s passing has still come as a great shock.

“On a personal level, I have lost a scoring colleague who I knew would have an enjoyable afternoon in the box with. Professionally, I have also lost a loyal lieutenant – my DACO ‘ears’ in the North Devon area.”

Philip Jolyon Huxtable was born in Barnstaple in 1947 and attended St Michael’s School at Tawstock, then Blundell’s School, Tiverton.

He was married to wife Sue for 48 years. The couple had one son, Tim, and were step-grandparents to three children.

Huxtable was a keen Hampshire CCC follower and regular spectator when Somerset played at Taunton. Friend and fellow cricket official Richard Smith was a collaborator in an attempt to visit all the primary county grounds in England and Wales.

Other interests included music – ranging from Fairport Convention to Gilbert and Sullivan – and history. He had recently completed an Open University degree in history and theology.

Son Tim said his father’s funeral would be a family affair, although he hoped a memorial event could take place at a later date. Tim asked for donations instead of flowers to be made to St Margaret’s Hospice in Wellington, Somerset.

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