Book Of Remembrances

Hugh Butterworth, Past National Secretary 1975-80, Bournemouth 41 Club


That is certainly a hard act to follow!

For someone who had such a fulfilled life I think we really need to be here all day to do Hugh Justice! But as that isn’t possible I will try to cover as much ground as I can

before SQ beckons! Hopefully Hugh would approve.

Born in his beloved Westward Ho! on July 2nd 1930, Hugh Montagu Butterworth arrived. The youngest of two sons and 6 much older half siblings, he came from a very diverse and fascinating family. I am sure his zest for life and a lot of his deep interests were planted at an early age because of his background

-His father was a solicitor and a keen tennis player who reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon before relocating to New Zealand for a while, this was before dad or Hugh were born.

-Hugh’s ‘uncle Alec’ who also qualified to be a solicitor and became general

-Manager of North Eastern Railway. He also played tennis at Wimbledon.

-George Butterworth, his cousin, was an English composer and folk song and dance revivalist who lost his life on the Somme

-His half brother and name sake was a first class cricketer who also died in the first world war


Hugh or Lofty (a name I believe he acquired when playing rugby in his youth and

was rather proud of) – but never ‘ SIR ‘achieved so much, visited so many places,

had so many interests, met so many people and had such an amazing impact on

everyone he met during his 88 year journey. I think Hugh thought the idea of dying was more of an inconvenience because he still had so much interest in the world and people around him.

Having spoken to quite of his friends and acquaintances, and received many emails over the last few weeks, I have begun to realise the depth of the legacy he is leaving behind and also the extent of the love everyone had for him.

We all have many amazing stories to tell about Hugh and the fact that there are so many people here today speaks volumes.

I don’t know how he found the time, but Hugh was very passionate about his huge amount of pastimes and interests, and he belonged to many different clubs:

Cricket, Rugby, Tennis, Squash, Badminton, skittles, bowling,

Bird watching, trains, politics, music, travel and people, 41 club, Poetry club, Probas, RASC, Westward Ho! Archives, WW1& 2, Friends of Deerhurst,to name just a few!

He was incredibly knowledgeable, whenever we couldn’t think of something my boys and I would always say ‘Hugh will know’ and he always did. He told me he had a semi photographic memory, a Butterworth trait which served him well throughout his life.....but unfortunately I did not inherit!!

Hugh went to Freemans School in Ashtead as a boarder which he didn’t really like but enjoyed precious holidays back in Westward Ho! His time growing up and into adulthood was spent between Coventry, North Devon and then Bournemouth where he lived with his mother, extremely happily.

Between 1948-1950 Hugh served with the Royal Army Service Corps and Royal Corps of Transport Regiments; most of his time served in Egypt but spoke little of it.

Once his service was completed he trained to be a solicitor, articled to a firm in Coventry and then spent his working life between Barnstaple and Bournemouth, before retiring to Braunton.He absolutely loved retirement and living in Braunton in his aptly named bungalow ‘Dunwurkin’. But when approached to come out of retirement he did so willingly and told me he really enjoyed working ad hoc, infact it was his happiest time at work.

Throughout his life, Hugh forged many lifelong friendships, everyone he met he had a direct positive impact on and touched them forever.

My first memories of my uncle were a) my amazement that this very tall man managed to fit into a very sporty MG car,b) he seemed to grow taller as I stood on tiptoe to kiss his cheek and c) whenever he spoke I found I was standing to attention as he had such a commanding voice.

I don’t remember seeing alot of Hugh doing my childhood but have countless wonderful memories as an adult starting with an amazing coincidence. I was on a work trip to The Gambia and who should be staying at the same hotel at exactly the same time as me...yes Hugh. He took myself and some of my crew under his wing and we went out for the day birdwatching which was most enjoyable. I have since realised that coincidences and Hugh go together! Having spoken to one of the receptionists at the doctor’s surgery recently she recalled a time when staying in a very remote part of NZ in an off the beaten track b&b when about to sign the visitors book the name above her stood out......yes Hugh Butterworth!

I am very grateful for the fantastic friendship which grew between Hugh and I, and which started when we were sorting through realms of paperwork after my dad died. He also formed a great relationship with my husband Fred, and sons Ben and Jesse. We all got on so well, and we always enjoyed it when Hugh came to stay with us, in between cricket trips or visiting friends, and we often ending up playing cards or Monopoly. I remember one time we didn’t want to disturb him as he was having a nap so started a game of monopoly without him which wasn’t the smartest move as when he woke up we received the wrath of Hugh as he had no intention of being left out; always so keen to join in.

Many special times were spent with Hugh in Pozieres, Northern France where we used to go for George Butterworth’s commemoration service every August. The drive would be fun, chatting non stop, always stopping off for a picnic which Hugh was so appreciative of and we would learn so much along the way. I do remember on one occasion in the midst of the infamous ‘Butterworth tours’ we visited the Ulster Tower memorial and stopped for a drink. I still have this lovely vision in my mind watching an eighties something uncle arm wrestling an 8-9 son, both determined to win. I can’t remember who won but no prisoners were taken on either side! Hugh was always game to join in!

We have received so many lovely messages and tributes about Hugh, a few of which I would like to read out as I feel they sum up what we all feel about this amazing man.

“A generous, modest and thoroughly lovely man who will be greatly missed”

“An absolute diamond”

“He never said a bad word about anyone. If in trouble he would have been the first to help”

“Just very thankful Hugh found our bed and breakfast accommodation in NZ and came to stay with us in the 90’s. Instant friendship and very special”

“My life was all the better for knowing him”

“He was a lovely man, used to take the mickey out of me and thoroughly enjoyed !”

“just popping to the loo, you’d always come back to find Hugh deep in conversation with someone he’d just met! I can only say that my life was all the better for knowing him”

Hugh had a special knack of putting people at ease and being able to talk to anyone. He was also modestly kind and generous, thinking of others before himself. We found some thank you cards which Hugh had kept from some school children who Hugh had arranged to go to watch the cricket at Lords. Things like that meant so much to him.

Many years ago on the first night of a holiday in St Ives with his longstanding friend Stan, Stan had to return to London as unfortunately his mother had died. Without any hesitation Hugh cut his own holiday short in order to go to her funeral and support Stan.

I imagine alot of us here have been at the unexpected end of receiving his favourite ‘Appledore’ chocolates. Hugh got immense pleasure from sending them and hearing ones thoughts and the pleasure they brought!

However, I do feel I need to add some balance. How many of us received ‘short shift’ or the rolling of the eyes if he was displeased by something!! But these were short lived and usually followed by a smile!

I looked forward to my Sunday evening chats with him on the phone, starting off with the usual pleasantries and by the end of the conversation had covered many different topics. I know many of you will have enjoyed similar conversations. One of which was relayed to me and I would like to share with you:

“Hugh was a Burkean Tory, while I was a (lapsed)-Christian Socialist. Both are honourable traditions, but they could hardly be more different. Nevertheless, we always parted as good friends and looking forward to our next meeting. I think this says a lot about Hugh. He was a great reader, deeply thoughtful and held on to his beliefs zealously. Yet he had a fine capacity to engage with people from walks of life that differed from his and to be interested in how they thought about things. Of course he was keen to win people around to his way of thinking, but he never held it against them when he didn't. He had, you see, a wonderful capacity to look beyond the views others held and to see the person behind them. That, I think, is a great gift, and he had it in spades. I can't help thinking that, in these divided times, a little more of this generosity of spirit would go a long way. A lot of us are going to miss him greatly.”

Finally, his sense of humour! Hugh was a fantastic orator and would speak at different meetings. He would often start with a funny comment or story to break the ice and put people at ease...although initially would be amused knowing people thought he was being serious.

I am going to read a letter which Hugh wrote to Sky very seriously in 2007 but which shows his wit at its best... even now I can imagine him grinning to himself as he wrote this!