Cricket and hockey club pay tribute to former president Hugh Thomas

Hugh Thomas
Hugh Thomas

Former president of both Horsham Cricket and Hockey Clubs Hugh Thomas has died, aged 88.

Richard Marshall, chairman of the cricket club, and Nick Evans from the hockey club, have paid tribute to the well-known and popular man who held many positions at the club over the years - as well as countywide roles.

Hugh joined Horsham Cricket Club having moved from Shropshire to take up a teaching post at Collyer’s, then the Grammar School.

Given the strength of the Horsham 1st X1 at the time, Hugh was a regular member of the second team where he was an orthodox left arm spinner, who by his own admission only batted at number 11 because there was nobody else left in the side.

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Marshall said: “As in the many years that followed, Hugh was always a most popular member of the Club and as the seasons rolled by became even more involved acting as 2nd X1 skipper and then Fixtures Secretary, a job he also mirrored with the Hockey Club. His tenure here lasted well in excess of 40 years, only handing over the reins in 2015.

“With his playing days well behind him, Hugh could not just walk away and became Chairman of the Club and as an integral part of the Sussex Cricket League, he used all his experience to help mould the shape of recreational cricket in the County.

“Quite rightly Hugh was elected as Vice President of Sussex Cricket with his exceptional contribution at the grass roots level.”

In 2008 Hugh became President, again a role he mirrored with Hockey. Sadly he decided to retire due to failing health and his inability to visit the ground as often as he would have wanted. Needless to say he always made every effort to support and always had many words of encouragement to both seniors and juniors alike.

Marshall added: “Such was Hugh’s esteem, we could not let him just gracefully retire, so he was made Life President in 2016.

“Hugh will be greatly missed by all who knew him especially his experience, wisdom, good council and simply by being one of life’s true gentlemen.”

Evans said: “Hugh was a founder member of the current Hockey Club in 1969. I say current, as there is evidence of hockey being played in Horsham from 1906 until 1939. That Club was based in Broadbridge Heath but has no connection to the current Club.”

Hugh became President in 1977 and had remained in that position ever since. He did try to step down in 2017 after 40 years in the role, but as there was no appetite to replace him, he was immediately made’ Honorary Life President’.

Evans said: “In his time at the Club, Hugh performed many roles, but above all he was a great supporter of all teams. No one was more proud of what the Club has become than him. He was as happy watching the juniors and stars of the future as watching the men’s and ladies 1st X1s.

“Even latterly, when travelling to Horsham became more difficult, Hugh was always keen to be kept updated on how our teams were doing.

“For many of us, it feels like a huge and irreplaceable part of the Club has left us and we will always remember him. A true gentleman.”