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David Welch

10th March 1948 - 29th June 2011

Dave from 64 panorama Dave at DT

David Welch turns out to have been far more famous than any of us perhaps realised ! His classmates have remained in even closer touch with one another than the bulk of OLO members but even they weren't aware that they had the Sports Editor of the Daily Telegraph in their midst. In the brief mini-biog sheet that the group share amongst themselves (perhaps a facility that the rest of us might like to copy ?) he described himself only as "working in London".

You can read his official obituary in the Daily Telegraph or there is a chattier version in the Telegraph Sports Supplement.

The piece below is a composite of memories from his classmates which Paul Hayler has put together for publication in the Sussex Express :-

Fifty-two years ago a group of nervous eleven year old school boys gathered outside the prefab classroom of our class teacher Dai (Killer) Jones to be introduced to each other at Lewes County Grammar School. Twenty seven of the boys from that one class remain in regular e.mail contact, even as we reach retirement.

The outstanding sports journalism career of David Welch is described eloquently in the four page obituary of David published in the Daily Telegraph of Friday July 1st. This account of David is but a collective summary of emails sent to me from some of those who were at school with him all those years ago but who remember him so clearly.

David was a truly outstanding sportsman. Classmate Ray Sabine (who had also been at Southover CE Primary with David) noticed him as a junior rugby player with an outrageous dummy for one so young and the beginnings of a fine offensive kicking game. Ian Dunn, a fellow cross country runner, remembers being given permission by the games teacher to run from school to Stanmer Park on games afternoon in order to check out the cross country course for the Sussex Championships that were being held there. Having observed the long uphill route to the finish David commented that all he had to do was save some reserves for that gruelling finish and he thought he could win it. They then ran back to school and two days later David returned to Stanmer to become Sussex Schools Champion, and went on to captain the Sussex team. Phil Ticehurst and others remember running behind David, always behind him because he was so determined to win that he drove himself to the point where he was physically sick as he crossed the finishing line. Having won he would then wait at the winning post to warmly congratulate all of his team who finished behind him, Alan Pett remembers David waiting to thank him for running as Alan finished in 137th place..

It would be wrong to give the impression that David thought only of running. He is remembered for so many other things. His enthusiasm for Horse Racing was already present at school, remembered for the celebrations when Lewes Horse Charlottown won the Derby in 1966, and he was ready member of Brian Yare's card games played on the school fields at lunch time. Tony Rich describes the broad smile we all remember, noting that life seemed to be a continual source of happiness for David, and Paul Gilbert recognises his stature as a role model in the school. Roger Alexander remembers David's skill at successfully dancing with one girl while flirting over his shoulder with the next in the queue.

When we read the story of his working life and the goodwill he engendered, I think all his school friends recognised the boy we had known. We felt privileged to have shared a classroom and a sports field with him. In the words of Ian Dunn; "David made athletics acceptable in our school. He led from the front and I am still running in his footsteps fifty years later".

Paul Hayler,
on behalf of the 1959 LCGS Form 2A

Footnote - from John Davey

Yesterday, I attended David's funeral service at the Woodvale Crematorium in Brighton. I estimate that there were about 150 people present to pay their respects although I recognised no other Old Lewesians among the congregation. By an extraordinary quirk of coincidence, the minister who would normally have been present at the Crematorium was indisposed and, in his place, the service was conducted by Old Lewesian, Rev Dick Field. In the past, Dick has led our worship at several Reunion services in the School Chapel and he conducted yesterday's service with his customary quiet dignity.

David's immediate family consisted of his son and two daughters, and Christopher Welch paid a very moving tribute to his father mentioning, among other things, the very high regard in which David had been held by his former schoolmates and the kind messages of condolence that had been received from several members of his Form.

Because I was not able to proceed to the Shelley's Hotel after the service, I had no opportunity to speak personally to any of David's family, but I asked Dick if he would be kind enough to convey a message on my behalf in order to let them know that the Old Lewesians Organisation was represented at David's funeral.