The formal obituaries and place for us to record fond memories of events and achievements.
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Members are asked to provide names and details so that we can make a comprehensive list.
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Simon Dixon (04/03/1944 - 27/03/2021)
Simon Dixon passed away on Tuesday 27th April. He had been battling Mesothelioma for a year and a half, that he had contracted from work that he did when a young man. He had recently turned 77. He was a committed and passionate supporter of the club and of Bisley. Until just recently, he was often to be found at Camp and around the club that he loved, often with his hallmark classic Daimler. He brought the perfect relaxed touch to the presentation of trophies and the marking of competition and match events. He was a true gentleman, always with a friendly smile and welcome.
Simon was the 12th recorded President of the North, stepping into Keith Pilcher’s shoes in 2012. The club has been lucky in its Presidents but particularly so in Simon’s case. He had previously ably supported the club in several roles including chairman 1989-94. He had served on the committee since 1982. Recently, he worked tirelessly to secure the club a renewal of its clubhouse lease on fair terms.
He had served as Chairman of the NSC from 2007 to 2009, and later a member of the NRA General Council.
Originally a TR shooter, and appearing here and there on the club’s Honours Boards and touring the Channel Islands as a member of the NRA Team in 2006, Simon moved on to MR for his last several years of shooting.
Alan Wey (24/05/1959 - 21/02/2021)
Alan Wey (24.5.59-21.2.21)
Shooting was a huge part of Alan’s life, both professionally and as his sport. He joined the prestigious gunmakers Holland & Holland as an apprentice in 1975 and stayed with them until 1980 helping make many superb firearms. Their current head of finishing, Steve Davies, joined the company at the same time as Alan and has fond memories of their time together. His skill in the working of gunstocks was formidable. London gunmakers sought his help even after he had left and set up his own business.
Alan took a lead for the North in managing the Reloading Facility as Load Master and in providing the club with much of the equipment in it. Under his guidance, it grew into a respected facility for F Class, MR and other members.
Alan’s shooting disciplines were mainly sporting rifle, McQueen castle and gallery rifle. A couple of years ago he won the Mendip Quarry Challenge, a demanding and popular shoot requiring shooting from over, round and under obstacles at varying distances. The play off was a single shot at over 200 yards at a target one inch square. Alan hit it and was the only person that year who did. He acted as the principal RO for most of the North’s McQueen and GR shoots and freely leant his excellent range of firearms for other members to try out. If you ever surpassed his McQueen score you knew you were getting there! Until a year or so ago, he regularly helped with the humane management of rabbit, fox and deer populations on local farms and estates.
As Training Officer for the North, Alan arranged and largely delivered probationer training courses, enabling members to achieve competence levels in range safety and receive their Shooter Certification Cards. He was looking forward to the end of the current virus restrictions when he planned to continue this work.
Alan wanted the club to get much better at introducing young shooters to the sport and supporting them in gaining competence in and enjoyment from it. He was planning that when shooting resumed the club would hold more shoots for youngsters and was helping the club buy and adapt suitable firearms for this purpose.
Alan had been ill with renal cancer for several years. When people asked him how he was, his usual reply was “Oh, you know, I’m alright” irrespective of how poorly he really was.
Alan was a gentle and kindly man, and always happy to help fellow shooters and the club. He will be much missed.
David Friend (1934 - 2020)
David Friend was a remarkable man. A superlative shot, a unique Bisley character, and an inspiration to so many of us. So it was with great sadness we learnt of his sudden death on Sunday 17th May, in Brighton Hospital, just 4 days after his 86th birthday.
His shooting career spanned over 70 years, during which time he excelled at both Target and Match Rifle. But this was just one aspect of a man with many talents, who contributed to causes as diverse as passing on leather working skills, the Burgess Hill Shed, a community art and crafts workshop, the Burgess Hill library, and the restoration of Oldland Mill in Sussex.
In common with many shooters of his generation, David started shooting at school, Hurstpierpoint College. By his own admission he was, at that stage, a solid but unspectacular member of the school VIII. From school he joined the navy, training at Dartmouth, and ‘retiring’ from the position of midshipman after 3 years. He then joined the family business – Friends for Leather – originally established by his great, great grandfather as a leather merchant. Never one to shirk progress David took the business into new territory, successfully developing and producing high quality fashion handbags and briefcases. His association with leather made him instantly recognisable at Bisley by dint of his extraordinary shooting jacket. He made it using a pattern borrowed from his tailor, and the result was a garment more akin to a trench-coat, weighing almost as much as the cow from which the leather came. He was rarely seen on the range without it on, whether in a deluge or heat wave. With his famous coat, ever present pipe weathered tweed fishing hat, and extraordinary eyebrows, he was instantly recognisable. And such was his propensity for smouldering tobacco he was often mistaken as being on fire, from a distance.
Having established himself in the family business, David was able to resume competitive shooting, and concentrated on Target Rifle, for many years very successfully. As early as 1963 he came 3rd in the Queen’s, one of the years Keith Pilcher won with an unheard of 13 consecutive bullseyes at 1000 yards. He was a regular on the Sussex and GB teams in the ‘70s. In 1971 he achieved the then record of 224 ex 225 in the Palma Match in Camp Perry. He also captained the winning England team in the National Match in 2006. The pinnacle of his Target Rifle career was winning the Queen’s in 1977. His winning score of 283, incidentally the same as Keith Pilcher’s in ’63, was low, and in his unassuming way he had no anticipation it would be enough. He was chaired off the range to great acclaim, pipe ablaze, his bearers struggling with the additional weight of his jacket.
His win in the Queen’s was achieved by superior wind reading on a difficult day, and the vagaries of the wind was one of the factors which drew him to Match Rifle in the ‘80s. He loved the challenge of judging the wind at long range, the technical elements of shooting at very long range, and became ever present in English Eight competitions and the Hopton. Over the years he won most of the trophies on offer, although the Hopton itself eluded him. He was selected for the England Elcho team on several occasions. The first was in 1992, and the last, his 9th, being 24 years later in 2016, when, remarkably, he was in his eighties. In 2002 he scored 223 ex 225 in the match, on a difficult day, when the next closest score was a full 11 points adrift of his total.
David was a member of the first GB Match Rifle Team to travel to Campbelltown in Tasmania in 1997 and shoot against Australia for the Woomera Trophy. The tour contained a generous amount of downtime, during which David, a keen fisherman, spotted that the river flowing past Campbelltown was likely to contain trout. Whether he caught any I don’t know, but fishing early one morning he was rewarded by the rare sight of a platypus in the stream. Never mind the shooting (which GB won). It was somehow all of a piece that this quiet, methodical countryman (pipe no doubt already alight) should be the one person to see a live platypus. Ever after Colin Hayes always addressed David as ’the man who saw the platypus’!
That he could maintain his competitiveness into his 80s was not only a result of inherent skill but also his constant desire to ‘move with the times’. He was eager to try new techniques or components, and was instrumental in helping a fellow Sussex man, Colin Moon, develop wooden rifle stocks which were the ‘go to’ stocks for Swings and similar actioned rifles. David’s progressive outlook enabled him to continue winning at the highest level. As recently as 2016, at the age of 82, he won the Wimbledon (MR) with an amazing 100.14 at 1100 yards.
He won the North’s Match Rifle Cup in 1991, 1999 and 2013. Members report: ‘he was not only a great character, but an inspiration and all round lovely gent. I will miss the aroma of his pipe behind the firing point at 1200yds. David had an angled scope and, although he shot from the right shoulder, when shooting he always set up the scope to the right hand side by his box’.
A few months before he died, David kindly donated to the club his Prometheus II reloading measure. It is a superb piece of engineering which rapidly delivers very precise powder measures. This instrument is in the club’s Reloading Room and available for use by members.
His interest in innovation extended beyond shooting, surprising us all in his last year with his purchase of a Jaguar E-Pace after decades of allegiance to his trusty Land Rovers. And this willingness to embrace change was also reflected in his enthusiasm for encouraging the next generations of aspiring shooters, or supporting various community-based projects close to home, such as the Oldland Mill. He was one of a small team of volunteers who started work on restoring the mill in the early ‘80s, resulting in its return to full working order in 2008.
For all his prowess with a rifle David was a modest, thoughtful, generous man with a very dry sense of humour. He was universally well liked, and a fixture on the North London Rifle Club veranda, in quiet contemplation, pipe puffing and pewter tankard in hand. To many members, he was a dear friend and inspiration, and will be very sorely missed.
Chris Elgood (1932 - 2020)
Chris Elgood, longstanding member of the North London, died on 9th April 2020.
Richard Christopher Philip Elgood was educated at Bradfield College and Trinity College, Cambridge. His passion was to work overseas and in order to do so, he joined the Civil Service in the UK, soon to be transferred to Rhodesia. When the British Government’s policy towards the Empire changed, Chris returned to the UK as a Training Officer. He moved on to GKN for a career in training and management and this was followed by a period at the Bramshill Police College, again providing the benefit of his management skills.
He elected to become independent and set up Chris Elgood & Associates where he was joined by his daughter Christine, specialising in management games and simulations.
He started shooting at Bradfield and was in the school VIII 1948, 49, 50 & 51. At University, he achieved Captaincy of the Cambridge University Rifle Team and, in 1956, he shot in the National Match for England.
On his return to the UK he eventually settled in Cranbrook, Kent. Always very keen on target rifle shooting, he attended the Imperial Meeting at Bisley for many years and also most of the Kent county shooting events until about 10 years ago when he decided to retire from active shooting. His talent, however, lay in the encouragement of young shooters. He was instrumental in the development of schools’ shooting in the County, liaising closely with the late Andrew Penfold in providing opportunities for talented pupils at Sevenoaks School and later at Tonbridge School. His talents were also enjoyed by the pupils of Marlborough House School in Hawkhurst where he provided shooting tuition for 10 years for younger pupils at this preparatory school. He was a loyal supporter of Bradfield shooting, he and his two brothers donated a Quart Tankard in memory of his father (a long time member of the North) which is awarded each year to the high man in the Vets. He was also a member of the English XX Club. He was a Vice President of the Kent County Rifle Association.
Described as an author, having written both fact and fiction, and a champion of making learning fun, Chris died on 9 April 2020 after falling ill following admission to hospital for a hip replacement.
His wife Delise predeceased him but he leaves his daughter and business partner Christine.
Nick Jeffs (20/11/1950 - 05/08/2019)
Nick Jeffs, anaesthetist, polymath, raconteur and fixture of the North London verandah died on the 5th August 2019. He took up shooting in his forties, initially with pistols, and after a chance meeting at Bisley was invited to the North London RC and promptly joined.
Although not the straightest of shooters (although he surprised us all with a 50.3 in the Conan Doyle) he found his role as coach incredibly rewarding, especially when faced with a challenge such as when he volunteered to coach a team of Japanese shooters who had rudimentary English and a combination of sights that moved in different directions. He was especially good at introducing young and inexperienced shooters to team matches and seemed to intuitively be able to fit the fattest of groups into the bull. He was most proud of his medals as coach of the Imperial College United Hospital team.
To Nick shooting was a social event, not to be taken too seriously. He toured Australia with John Killian’s Lions team and as a founder member of the Grippers took on and beat Germany at Sennelager. Annual trips to Barry in Scotland were normally started with a fierce curry and quite a few beers.
He was active in the shooting Uncles scheme and was a committee member of the North as well as being on NRA Council.
With increasing difficulty in walking to the ranges he latterly restricted himself to coaching and socialising. His vast fund of jokes (often very politically incorrect) included bilingual limericks and the most shaggy of shaggy dog stories.
R M (Mick) Stevens ( 19xx - 12/2/2014) GM 1971
R M (Mick) Stevens, GM, died in the early hours of last Wednesday. Mick won the Queen's Prize in 1971 while a member of the NLRC and the Ricochet Rifle Club.
Walter Magnay (01/11/1919 - 26/03/2013) GM 1976
Walter Magnay was the last of the great rifle shooters who emerged in the years just before the war. He was one of the distinctive characters among the Bisley-based “tigers” who topped the prize lists from the 1950s to the 1980s, and he was one of the finest shots ever to represent England and Great Britain. He was a respected ambassador for the sport, fostering goodwill and humour among the opposition. He toured Australia, Canada (five times), the Channel Islands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa and Switzerland as a member of British and other UK teams. He won the Lt Governor’s Prize at Montreal, Quebec, in 1950, followed by the New Zealand Queen’s Prize and Ballinger Belt in 1974, and the Queen’s Prize at Bisley in 1976. In a shooting career spanning from 1947 to 1995 he won 51 caps for England, and 17 for Great Britain during the annual Bisley Imperial Meeting, together with a host of other individual honours. Younger shooters would often see Magnay, Robin Fulton, Larry and Jean Orpen-Smellie and their illustrious shooting friends gathered at the back of the firing point in the setting July sun at the annual Bisley international matches, after shooting had finished for the day. They were gathered for the evening ceremony of swapping hard or good luck stories on their day’s fortunes, washed down by the inevitable pink gins. It was a sight that brought a degree of reassurance to hurried competitors, and the knowledge that there was time for relaxation among sportsmen and women in a hectic world. Magnay’s victory in the Queen’s Prize in 1976 came after a three-way tie shoot with Libby Felton of Australia, and his friend Ted Molyneux. Molyneux recalled Magnay’s advice on tie shoots: get your shots off quickly so as to disconcert the other competitors.
extracted and reproduced from The Times : http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/obituaries/article3755916.ece
David Hossack (19xx - 08/12/2012)
It is very sad to report that David Hossack died on 8th December following a severe stroke from which he was unable to recover and our condolences go to his wife Hilary and family Jon and Joanna. David did an enormous amount over many years for fullbore shooting in general and for Scottish shooting in particular. During his time as Captain of the Scotland team he was instrumental in raising the standard of shooting and was very successful in achieving the best results from the teams, particularly in the overseas teams he took to Australia and the West Indies. His personality and positive approach to leadership made a big difference in helping team members to achieve their personal best results. His own shooting was of a very high standard and he was in the Scotland team for the 1974 Commonwealth Games in New Zealand. He had the distinction of being in the winning Scotland team for the National Match in 1965 and then in the next winning team in 2010 -- a gap of 45 years. He also shot in Great Britain overseas teams and made regular appearances in the top 100 of the Queens Prize and he was especially proud when his daughter Joanna won the Queens Prize in 2000. In recent years David took up Match Rifle shooting and quickly established himself in the Scotland teams that won the Elcho Match in 2010 and 2011. David also helped in running the NSC at Bisley during a difficult financial period when the future of the NRA was in doubt and he also helped the North London Rifle Club at Bisley including his time as Chairman of the club. His contribution to full bore shooting was enormous and he will be sorely missed by all that knew him
Keith Pilcher (1937 - 2011) GM2 GC SM SC - GM 1963 & 1973
.... He had little patience with the way the sport of shooting was run and his idea of a perfect Committee was that of one. He was very proud of his club, the slightly misleadingly named (for historic reasons) North London Rifle Club as it is the premier private club at Bisley. At Committee Keith had the ability to get to the nub of any problem and his remarks were always listened to. He was proud to become and the club was proud to have him as its President since 2009. Keith was one of the most outstanding marksmen of his generation. Although he had already made his mark before 1963, the making of him was being a successful member of the last true Great Britain Touring Team to Africa from Kenya to South Africa in 1963, before it became pull-apart with nationalist politics such that tours, since, have been, basically, to one country at a time. He also made lasting friendships among the leading shots of the time, especially of some a generation above him. He was one of the pink gin club who enjoyed each other’s company and toured together – the qualification being to have a ready supply of pink gin in the boot of their cars at Bisley. Altogether he also toured with British Teams to Canada, the USA, the West Indies, New Zealand, Australia and, with six of us from the British Commonwealth Rifle Club, to Papua/New Guinea, Singapore and Hong Kong - a memorable trip for all of us as I recall that the team was run, very successfully, as a democracy with six captains. To recall all Keith’s successes and anecdotal stories would take a long time, but his highlight was his consistent success in over 25 years which he won in 1963 using the adapted military rifle of the time and in 1973 using the bespoke target rifle type we use today – the only person to have won with both rifle types. He qualified for the Queen’s hundred year after year between 1958 and 1985 (18 times in all) with the, possibly, unique record of missing out on achieving 10 in a row in 1971 by not waking up in time for the second stage! He also won the Bisley Grand Aggregate in 1970 and was in the top 50 17 times. Later becoming a champion and prize winning long range Match Rifle Shot and coach for many years. His last major appointment was as captain of the successful English Rifle Team in the Millennium Match held at Bisley. extracted and reproduced from Keith Pilcher’s Eulogy