Leatherhead Parish Church - Ron Presley OBE 1931-2009

Ron Presley OBE died on 9th December 2009. His funeral took place privately at Leatherhead Crematorium on 21st December. His ashes were buried in the Garden of Remembrance in Leatherhead Parish Church's churchyard on the morning of 24th February 2010 and in the afternoon a service to celebrate his life was held in the Parish Church, St Mary & St Nicholas, Leatherhead. It was standing room only.


The Parish Church of
St. Nicholas & St. Mary with All Saints,
Leatherhead
Ronald John Presley OBE
1931-2009

A service to celebrate
an extraordinary life well lived

Wednesday 24th February 2010

Today's service will be conducted by The Reverend Graham Osborne, who we'd like to thank for his kindness, help and advice over the last few weeks.

The Presley family would also like to thank Graham Thorp for all the music, Canon David Eaton for his words today and the support he has given us, the choir, the bellringers, the flower ladies and to all Ron's friends and colleagues for their contributions in making today's service so special.

During today's service you will hear a little about CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young ) a charity that was very close to Ron's heart - literally! If you would like to make a donation, thank you. Please do so using the plate at the door, or by using the Gift Aid donation envelope provided, which you can leave in the plate or send in yourself. If you would like to find out more about CRY, please visit www.c-r-y.org.uk

So that we know who has been with us here today, please would you complete the name slips provided and give to one of Ron's grandchildren at the exit as you leave.
Thank you.

ORDER OF SERVICE

Music before the service
Graham Thorp MA(Cantab), FRCO
Satie, Stanley, Beethoven and Mozart - piano and both organs.

The Reverend Graham Osborne
Welcome and introduction

HYMN - ALL
The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended
John Merton, Clement Cotterill Scholefield

Memories from a son
Adam

On behalf of my mother and three brothers can I also extend a very warm welcome to you all, and express our deepest gratitude to you for coming today.

As well as all his family and friends from all over the country, there are many people here from Leatherhead, where Dad lived very happily for the last 40 years. And there are also many of you who knew him from his business and tennis life, more of which we’ll hear about shortly. Dad would have been amazed to see so many of you here, so again, thank you.

We would also like to extend a special thanks to so many of you who have travelled from so far away. From Arizona and Memphis, Newfoundland and Nairobi, from Cyprus and Switzerland … and of course Hong Kong.

Finally, I would like to say a personal thank you to Neil Harman, I have never met Neil, but he obviously knew my father. Neil has been a sports journalist for many years and he recently wrote a short piece about Dad for The Times Online. I had been wrestling in my mind as to how to sum up what our father was, what he taught us, and what he stood for. And when I read Neil’s piece it captured him perfectly.

As you listen I would ask you, in your mind, to change the words ‘President of the LTA’ to ‘Head of our family’ and ‘his sport’ to ‘his family’. The piece sums up how I feel about Dad.

“Presley was the President of the LTA in the late 80s, a warm-hearted, kind man who loved his sport with a passion and went about his duties in an understated way, but who always charmed us. With Frances, his wife at his side, Ron personified what a president of the LTA should be, wanting the very best for his sport, leading it with wise council, dignity and common sense and having no ambition lest it was the success of the sport. A very good man indeed”.

...Yes he was - a very good man indeed.


Tennis with grandson Jake

A lasting friendship
Eric Leyns
A personal perspective from one of Ron's oldest friends

Ron achieved prominence in many fields, but I am here simply to talk about a fine man, a dear friend and a long friendship.

The fact that I am here speaking at all says something about Ron. When we first met over 50 years ago Ron was what we now describe as upwardly mobile and as we all know went on to move in high spheres of business and tennis and met many successful and important people from the Queen down. But he never became too grand to forget his early friends.

Our friendship got off to quite a slow start, Ron was pursuing a very nice girl called Frances Webb, who was one of a circle of friends I was fortunate enough to meet when I first came to work in London in 1957. At the time Frances kept Ron very much to herself and somewhat in the background. So we only met briefly; I remember a dynamic man, very easy to talk to and obviously very good at his job since he was already a partner in Edward Erdman. But these encounters were always as part of a group usually going to the Victorian style music hall under Charing Cross Bridge.


Ron and Frances wed on 6th May 1961

It was only after Ron and Frances were married that our friendship really started. Not long after they had set up their first home at Dutch Cottage they held a November 5th. Firework party: this was a very good party that I remember well; I am not sure whether Adam with his Health & Safety hat on would have quite approved - the trajectories of the rockets were rather low and a wheelbarrow full of fireworks was parked rather close to the bonfire. But there were no incidents although strangely enough the press was full the following day of a film star whose house was burnt down as a result of an explosion in a similarly parked wheelbarrow.

I and another friend had been asked to stay the night and lunch the following day. In the morning I heard some delightful music exceptionally well produced; until then I had never experienced the new concept of hi-fi, so entranced I was listening to this when Ron came in and we started talking about opera music and hi-fi. At the end of our conversation I knew I had made a friend and also knew where to get a hi-fi.

Since we both worked in London Ron and I would keep in touch by phone and the occasional lunch. The next step was when, somewhat to my surprise I was asked to be Nick’s godfather. Nick was a lovely little boy but very active and inventive particularly at night. At this time I missed an opportunity: virtually every telephone call I had with Ron would start ‘you don’t want a son do you?’ seeing Nick now I clearly should have dealt but I can say that I have had great pleasure in the lesser role of godfather.

It was nice in the fullness of time to be able to return the compliment when Ron agreed to be godfather to my elder daughter Kirsty, and our relationship was further cemented when Frances became godmother to my second daughter Anna.


with Archie at Dinton Mill 1994

Ron became very keen on trout fishing and like everything else became rather good at it. I remember his phoning one afternoon in great excitement that he had just acquired a time-share in a converted mill on the River Nadder near Salisbury. Ron achieved distinction here too by catching the grandfather of all trouts, a real whopper. I was not there when it was caught but only saw it later suitably displayed in its glass on the wall at Dinton Mill. It was too late for me then to suggest that for the benefit of the other time-sharers he should have added to the label the line from Shelley’s Ozymandias -‘Look on my works ye mighty and despair.’


Fly fishing at Blagdon in the 1980s

Since the late 1960s when I married Pauline combined visits to Glyndebourne became an annual feature and it was in 1970 that Ron gave me a piece of advice that I have always cherished, Ron who was a member said to me ‘the waiting list is down to two years, why do you not join?’. I put my name down forthwith and by 1972 I was a member. I do not know what the current situation is but the waiting list subsequently expanded to over twenty years.


At Glyndebourne 2006

Our visits to Glyndebourne were always great fun and when my daughters were little we would sometimes stay and leave them in the care of the Presley boys. This was always a great treat for them, the young Presleys had what one might say a somewhat informal approach to child minding.

On one occasion we were staying the night away but leaving our daughters at Vale Lodge. Mark, ever helpful, unloaded the girls’ kit but got a bit over enthusiastic and unloaded my black shoes as well. The attendants at Glyndebourne did not say anything but must have raised an eyebrow at this strange man in dinner jacket and brown brogues.

Needless to say another annual highlight was a visit to Wimbledon and on one memorable occasion a seat in the Royal Box - somewhat chilly I recall; Ron went backstage and fetched a rug. Ron always managed to be the perfect host and being everywhere else at the same time. He seemed to know everybody. It became a standing joke that no matter where we were whether it was Wimbledon or Glyndebourne or wherever there would always be at least one person in the crowd who would call out 'Hi Ron!'

It was a great pleasure to me that as a modest return for the Glyndebourne advice I was able to introduce Ron to the Worshipful Company of Bowyers and he was keenly receptive to the ancient traditions and friendship of the livery and he was very pleased that Christopher has chosen to follow his footsteps.

Membership of the Bowyers influenced Pauline and my 25th wedding celebration when we went with Ron and Frances to France and visited the battlefield of Crécy which features on the Bowyers arms. On a firmer footing of the entente cordiale we also had a private visit, arranged by Berry brothers to Maison Binet at Rilly la Montagne, a small producer of quality champagne with a modest 6 kilometres of cellars and 6 million bottles of maturing champagne, of which we took a small parcel away. Thereafter Binet was a regular at our Glyndebourne picnics.

Opera, concerts bistro suppers were a happy theme of our years of friendship and not forgetting the odd visit to Thollon. In later years I was able to introduce Ron and Frances to grange park opera which took its place as an annual event also accompanied by a bottle of Binet. One special opera was a visit to Bayreuth to see a memorable performance of Tannheuser. I also remember Frances arriving somewhat disconcerted because she thought that she might have put petrol in their diesel car but all was well.


Ron after a climb through the trees at Thollon

We had a selection of eating places in London, one of our favourites now sadly gone was La Paesana in Notting Hill. Typically, Ron introduced the tennis playing patron Tony to The Queen’s Club.

I remember how in the early years I was always full of admiration when Ron and Frances would recount the logistics of serving the activities of their four sons: the interlocking network of car journeys would have done credit to any Army Staff College exercise. And all this was at a time when Ron was playing a leading role in Edward Erdman and tennis. He always had time for his family.

Given the breadth of his achievements I have wondered while preparing this how Ron would wish to be remembered. And I think that despite what one might call the ‘who's who’ record he would have wished to be remembered as a family man - husband, father, grandfather; he was the finest of role models to them as indeed he was to us all.

Choir
God Be In My Head - Henry Walford Davies

Reading
Sue Sönksen, cousin
Success

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much;
Who has enjoyed the trust of good women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children;
Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
Who leaves the world better than he found it, who has never lacked appreciation of Earth's beauty or failed to express it;
Who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had;
Whose life was an inspiration, whose memory a benediction.

1904 - Bessie Anderson Stanley

RJP - A working life
Colin Knott

How do you pay tribute to a man who packed so much into his life? A man with such a wide range of interests. Ron Presley made an impact in his profession, in business, in sport, in his support of charitable causes and in the community in which he lived with Frances and their sons, Christopher, Nicholas, Mark and Adam. Ron was a man who liked to get things done and anyone who knew him could not fail to be impressed by his energy and enthusiasm for life.

There are friends and colleagues here today who have known Ron far longer than the near 40 years since we first worked together and I am humbled that Frances asked if I would be prepared to say a few words. I would like to thank in particular Terence Goodman who began working with Ron in 1951 for his help and insight into Ron’s early career.

Ron enjoyed a successful business career that extended over a period of 60 years. Joining Edward Erdman in 1947 as an office junior, RJP, as Ron was known to his colleagues, rose to become Chief Executive and Senior Partner. On his retirement in 1991 he continued his connection with the company remaining as a consultant into his 70s.

I am told that Ron's early ambition was to be an architect. However in 1947, whilst still at school, he met a man who was to have a massive influence on his life, Edward Erdman. In 1947 Edward Erdman & Co, which had been formed in 1934, was newly re-established following closure during the war. The company was based at 6 Grosvenor Street in the heart of Mayfair. The business was growing and by 1947 employed 11 staff and there was a vacancy for an office Junior.

I don’t know what Edward said to the young Ron but he persuaded him to put aside his ambition to be an architect to join him as the office junior at the princely sum of £2 per week. Ron clearly relished the entrepreneurial atmosphere in the office and was quickly promoted to Junior Negotiator.

After National Service in the RAF Ron returned to Edward Erdman and specialised in the retail sector in London and the south-east of England. In those early days through the 1950s and 60s young negotiators walked the streets of their patch getting to know both landlords and tenants. This was before the era of company cars when the accepted the mode of transport for travelling between town centres was bus and train. Woe betide any young negotiator seeking to claim for a taxi fare. In later years when Ron was approving expenses he would recall the occasion in those early days when his colleague Donald Du Parc Braham, who later became Lord Mayor of Westminster, incurred the wrath of Eddie Mowle (Edward Erdman's long standing colleague) when claiming 1s3d (6p in today’s money) for a taxi fare.

Ron developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the high streets on his patch. He also developed contacts with some of the largest property companies and multiple retailers in the country as well as maintaining relationships with many smaller family businesses. It was one of Ron’s great attributes that he was able to communicate with, and relate to, people at all levels whether it be the Chairman of a large public company or a sole trader in Leatherhead High Street. He never lost that personal touch.

Ron was always impeccably dressed. Rumour had it in those early days that he had five pairs of black Oxford shoes that he polished every Sunday evening, one pair for each day of the week.

As the business prospered so did Ron’s career. Being appointed a director of Edward Erdman & Co and subsequently Head of the Suburban Shops Department. Ron also played an increasingly important role in the management of the business joining the Management Committee. It was around this time nearly 40 years ago that I began working with Ron when I joined the Valuation Department of Edward Erdman.

The property industry is fiercely competitive and the retail agency world in which Ron started his career was particularly so. However there is a camaraderie amongst agents and Ron made many friends in competing businesses built on his reputation for straightforward business dealings.

In his book People & Property, Edward Erdman recounted the story of Ron meeting the shareholders of a private property company, at the invitation of the non-executive chairman. The shareholders were 7 women, all related by marriage but who had a history of rarely all seeing eye to eye. Ron’s straightforward approach and natural charm won them over and by the end of the meeting there was unanimous support for his proposals which in turn he delivered to the satisfaction of all the shareholders.

As one of the country's leading retail agents Ron and his team, were closely involved in the development and letting of a number of town centre shopping centres acting on behalf of property development companies and institutional investors.

When in 1973 Edward Erdman retired Ron was the natural choice to become client relationship director working with some of the company’s most important clients, a role he fulfilled until his own retirement.

As Ron’s career progressed he played an increasingly important role in the management of Edward Erdman and when John Cook retired as Joint Chairman Ron became Chief Executive and Colin Kerr became sole Chairman.

Ron’ straightforward approach and property knowledge was in great demand and he was invited to be a non-executive director of a number of client companies including Chesterfield Properties plc, the family owned Courtney Investments Ltd and GUS Property Management Ltd, the property subsidiary of GUS plc that at one time had a portfolio of over 1000 properties valued in excess of £1 billion.

Ron’s interests were not just confined to business. He was a keen sportsman, an avid collector of clocks, often seen disappearing off to see a little man in South Molton Street, close to the office, to take a clock in for repair, a twitcher, and an active Fellow of the Society of Valuers and Auctioneers supporting its eventual merger with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Whilst in his younger days I am told Ron was a formidable table tennis player his great love was tennis and each year come Wimbledon fortnight Ron would juggle his time between the office and SW17. I remember the angst of one junior member of staff in Ron’s team who had been lucky enough to get tickets on the Centre Court and booked himself out on inspections only to find that he was sitting close to Ron and Frances and desperately hoped that he had not been spotted. The following morning Ron’s only comment was to ask if he had enjoyed the tennis.

Ron's contribution to tennis in Surrey and with the LTA was not fully recognized in the office until he announced that he was to become President of the LTA. Even then Ron was able to juggle the competing demands on his time between business, tennis and family.

When Ron eventually stood down as Chief Executive he stayed on firstly as Senior Partner and then as a consultant for a number of years. In those latter years we continued to work very closely together, sharing an office, which enabled him to keep in touch with the progress of the business and me to benefit from his knowledge and experience. Ron remained close to his mentor Edward Erdman throughout Edward’s retirement until his death in 2003.

Following Edward's 90th birthday Ron was one of the founder trustees of the Edward L Erdman Environmental Fund, a charity that part funded a library for the Cambridge International Land Institute at Fitzwilliam College.

How do you sum up a man whose career spanned 60 years, who rose from office junior to chief executive, became President of the LTA, was awarded an OBE for his services to tennis, a man who did not relish change for changes sake, a man not without failings, a family man, a man with a diverse range of interests, a man who was generous with his time, loyal to his clients and colleagues, a man of enormous enthusiasm and energy above all a man of integrity?

Ron Presley was a man who lived life to the full. Friends and colleagues will have many individual memories. Much has changed in the property industry since Ron first walked through the door of 6 Grosvenor Street back in 1947 but the qualities that Ron epitomized of enthusiasm, loyalty and integrity remain in demand today.

Memories from a son
Mark

Good afternoon dear family and friends.

How wonderful it is to see a packed house to celebrate RJP's - Dad's life. It is marvellous to see so many friends from decades gone by to the present, be it from the worlds of Edward Erdman & Property, Global Tennis & Sports, Opera & Classical Music, Charities, Neighbours & the Local Community, The Church, The Arts, Fishing, Friends & Family of Chris, Nick, Adam & mine or just dear Friends of Ron's for whatever reason. Dad made friends so easily and was always a perfect & kind gentleman, a Himalayan figure of a Father to live up to.

On behalf of Mum and my brothers, I would also like to thank everyone for their very kind and caring letters sent in the past two months. We would also like to thank all the friends who could not be present today for their kind words and thoughts.

I would like to share with you one letter in particular from Yashvin Shretta of Nairobi, who sadly cannot be here today, but we are so pleased that Kathleen his wife is.

Dear Frances, I remember when I first met Ron in 1956 when he was asked by West Norwood Lawn Tennis Club to vet my application for membership.

On a fine Saturday morning just as I had arrived at the club a smartly dressed gentleman in highly polished shoes stepped out of an equally smart sports car! This was Ron. He introduced himself and told me that as the club could not accommodate beginners he had been asked by the committee to play tennis with me. Half way through the set he stopped, smiled and said that was enough. He asked if I would be prepared to play for the club if selected and when I said yes I could see that he was pleased.

This was to be the beginning of our long friendship. We both played for the club, he as the 1st pair with Laurie Chapman and I as the third with Keith Dyer.

Then he met you (Frances); it was love at first sight and goodbye to the carefree bachelor years. Ron was one of those very rare people who had a deep interest and understanding of almost everything from the Arts to Sport. He was the greatest of company always talking but never boring, at ease with everyone and anyone. I always thought he had achieved everything: a great professional life, top positions and honours in his favorite sport tennis and most importantly a happy family life.

However there were a couple of things he still wished to do - firstly to see a British tennis player win Wimbledon and secondly to attend the New Years Day concert in Vienna.

Sadly the first was not to be but the second I managed to arrange through friends in Vienna and at last I was able to reciprocate in a small way for all the kindness he and you have shown Kathleen and Devin over the years.

It has been a privilege to know Ron. Life has no pleasure nobler than that of friendship. Yashvin

Dad's 78 years of life spanned one of the most dramatic periods of history as many here will know well and agree. He was a man that lived many lives in one - with such a passion, one of the early multi-taskers. Then on top of that are the four lives & times of his four sons, I can assure you those four are enough for anyone let alone everything else. I have to mention, since they were married, all of this undertaken with absolute love & union with our amazing Mother, Frances, some would say they must have been mad. I could recall so many stories, but we'd have to book you all into hotels.

However, as a kid growing up, you always knew the Good Ship Presley was on a fair & steady course when on a Sunday morning after an early game of tennis, the sounds of Opera and singing emanated from The Big Room, our living room, as Dad polished the wooden floor and wound his beloved clocks, whilst Mum prepared a roast lunch … Heaven on Earth.


a familiar pose

Then in later life you could always tell which room Dad was sitting in or if he was out at the summer house next to the pond with his Coy Carp (one of which was named Boris, yes after The Champion) due to the subtle classical or dramatic operatic or summer proms resonating from his favourite radio station Classic fm.

Finally, I would like to let you all know, that this morning, with Graham Osborne; Mum, Christopher, Nicholas, Adam and I laid Dad's ashes to rest in the Memorial Garden of this Church, which is located to the far South Western corner of the Churchyard. Please feel free to visit the garden after the service or as and when you wish. Our dear friend Jill Goodchild has made a beautiful flower arrangement that sits at Dad's resting place. In due course a plaque will be added to the memorial wall.

Thank you all very much for coming today to celebrate a very remarkable, kind and special man. Ron - Dad.

A True Champion.

Reading
From the Book of Revelation, Chapter 21, verses 1-7
Graham Osborne

Choir
The Lord Bless You
Written for the Parish Church Choir by their late
organist and choirmaster, David Oliver

The Day Papa Caught A Monster
A poem by the Grandchildren

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream,
But please not on the Nadder,
As it’s a trout fisherman’s dream.

Throw, throw, throw your fly,
Cast it up the river.
If you don’t, Charlie will see,
And a lecture he’ll deliver.

Look, look, look over there,
The deep pool on beat three.
Hiding under the corner,
A monster the size of a tree.

Tie, tie, tie the fly,
Quickly as you can.
Oh dear, where’s my specs
I’ve tied it to my finger again!

Cast, cast, cast the fly out,
A pheasant tail’s for me.
Oh dear, that was a bit far,
I have actually caught the tree!

Tug, tug, tug the line
I hope it doesn’t snap.
Swish, whoosh, out it comes.
But now it’s caught my hat!!

© 2010 Presley Grandchildren


Beat 3 at Dinton Mill

Memories from a son
Nicholas

You will have today heard many kind words about what my father was. But I think it only fair - in the interest of a balanced view - to also give you an insight as to what he wasn’t!

For example - he certainly wasn’t someone you wanted to watch television in the evening with! ... have you seen how many clocks there are in the lounge at home? It wasn’t too bad on a Monday night - Sunday was always winding night, so at least the chiming was fairly well co-ordinated. But by Thursday … well, if you wanted to watch Question Time, you had to wait till after Match of the Day on Saturday before the last one stopped chiming in the Ten o’clock News.

And he wasn’t someone you ever wanted to travel anywhere incognito with. It was very rare that you went anywhere that he didn’t know someone … or rather, someone didn’t know him. Airports, planes, shops, it was rare that on trips out with Dad he wouldn’t bump in to someone he knew … just ask Mum … they were travelling in New Zealand a while back, on a sightseeing boat in Doubtful Sound, the most southerly tip of a country some fourteen thousand miles away and mother heard those immortal words ...“aren’t you Ron Presley?”

And talking of travel, as many of you will know, he wasn’t very good at going anywhere without visiting a coffee shop. In fact my wife Jo once commented he knew every Patisserie from Paris to Evian … and although you could never accuse Dad of being ‘spatially challenged (i.e. overweight), I’ve no idea why, because I can’t ever remember a family ski trip that didn’t involve consuming mountains of Black Forest Gateau or Apple Strudel as soon as we came off the slopes … often not long before we sat down for dinner!


Ron skiing in Norway in 1959 when he met Frances

And on the subject of skiing ... Franz Klammer’s crown as the best ever skier is still safe … Dad loved his skiing, but sartorially he often left something to be desired. He would regularly entertain his grandchildren by prancing around in his long-johns … and he was one of the pioneers of air-conditioned trousers, when he spent a whole afternoon without telling anyone the he had a two-foot long split up the backside of his favourite plus-four ski pants! ... it was enough to make your eyes water … if they hadn’t been too frozen up!!


Ron's first most prized possession

Ron's second most prized possession, bought on retirement at 60

What else was he not good at …?... having a quiet Sunday morning? … if he wasn’t polishing his shoes he was polishing his cars - a discipline that certainly rubbed off on three of his sons! ... Also to my knowledge he NEVER, EVER wore a pair of Jeans - although Adam does claim to have seen him wear some once - you may see nothing wrong in that ... but on the basis he didn’t own a pair, the only place they could have come from is Mum’s wardrobe - so my Dad was a cross-dresser!

And the other thing he never ever did was swear. I can honestly say I didn’t ever hear him swear once. Ever. At all …well maybe just the once … when a nine-year old Mark, whilst playing in the garden at being a mechanic … he decided to copy what he’d seen at he garage and fill up mum’s car … using a hose-pipe … and a lot of water!

Dad was also a hopeless map-reader … and to think he spent his National Service charged with transferring aerial photos taken over Germany on to maps in London … the mind boggles … thank goodness the war ended 8 years before or who knows where we’d now be sitting!

And finally - as we all know he wasn’t a big drinker … well of course apart from Tea ... he did like his cup of Tea and he was very pernickety about timing. So I must tell you of one instance that lightened the spirits amidst all the recent darkness of Dad’s passing. There we were, my mother and three brothers and I around his bed in hospital saying our farewells after he had gone. The Hospital chaplain was leading us in some prayers and of course the tears were flowing. All of a sudden the door burst open and in comes an orderly with a pot of tea. She of course was horrified, and made her profuse apologies about getting the wrong room. Imagine her surprise as in unison, we all laughed and reassured her that, that was exactly what father probably needed to help him on his way.

So that’s my Dad. He couldn’t swim. He hated spicy food. He couldn’t speak a word of French despite having a place there for many years. He was hopeless at being ill - he once spent all afternoon fishing in discomfort thinking he had bad wind when he actually had appendicitis; his taste in white wine was fair - he did much better when it came to red!

And we wouldn’t have wanted him any other way.


Wimbledon kit, 6th July 2008

Organ Recital
Adagio from Voluntary in E minor - John Stanley
Graham Thorp (at the Thomas Parker Organ)

A passion for Tennis
Keith Glass & Tony Scarlett

Keith Glass: Today is a tribute to celebrate Ron’s life ... And how his life touched us all.

When I look at the tribute sheet it says Ron Presley born 1931 dash died 2009. But what matters most is the dash between those two dates. For that dash represents all the time Ron spent alive, and now only those who loved him know what that little dash is worth. For it matters not how much we own, the cars the house, the cash, what matters most is how we live, and love, and how we spend our dash. If we could just consider what is true, and what is real, and always try to understand how other people feel, and be less quick to anger, and show appreciation more - and love the people in our lives like we’d never loved before. If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

Ron lived his life by these sentiments and everyone whose life he touched was a better person for knowing and being close to Ron – the very number of people here today who have come to pay tribute and celebrate Ron’s life bear witness to this.

The saying goes behind every great man there is a great woman, and in Ron’s case this is very true, as in the song – Wind beneath my wings, I know that Frances was always there for Ron – his wind beneath his wings and his rock.

He was Surrey Tennis’s rock during his 47 years on the Surrey Tennis Council – 17 as its chairman and 9 as its president. He had great insight, great understanding and great experience that we could all utilise when we needed to. Ron was a gentleman in every sense of the word.

When he was appointed President of Surrey in the year 2000 he had asked me if I would consider standing for the position of Chairman. I was very proud to have his support and nomination. Since then he has very much been my tennis dad and someone I could always turn to in times of need.

You will have heard about his family life and his achievements in tennis administration, but he was introduced to tennis by one of his uncles at an early age who used to take him to Queen’s Club, and he could always remember sitting with his legs over the balcony watching Borotra. He used to go into one of the parks to play near his home, with a friend, climbing over the railings before the park keeper arrived. Several times they were nearly caught as they climbed back just before opening time. As you have heard, he joined West Norwood Tennis Club where he got to know many of the South London clubs and their members.

Ron was not necessarily one of the best exponents of the game but certainly one of the most competitive – I remember playing a social game with him at the All England Club and it was anything but friendly – his mastery of the dropshot and lob combination left his opponents red faced and exhausted – I said to him after one particularly long rally – “You’re wicked” – he looked at me winked and said “I know”.


Ron with the Davis Cup in 1978, the last year GB got near it (runners up)

I’m sure Sheila Burditt will remember when we were both county captains at Eastbourne, and Ron was LTA President. He came to us on the Thursday afternoon and said “I’m sure you are both going to win, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to present you with the cups tomorrow, I have a prior engagement, but if you could both win next year I’ll be able to be here.” In current ‘meerkat’ phraseology “simples” - but if any one of you has played County Week or has been captain, to win group one is very difficult, to get a men’s and ladies’ double once is almost impossible – to do it two years running – “simples” . So when presenting us both with the cups the following year (and the photos are very treasured) he said “I knew you could both do it!”. Which was far more than Sheila and I ever knew, but an experience that will live with us forever!

To the average person, the enormity of his work-load both in tennis and his professional life was impossibly daunting, yet this down to earth, warm and friendly man, had no trouble finding time for everybody, never seemed rushed, fulfilled every promise and obligation that he made, was unfailingly courteous, and approached everything he undertook with infectious enthusiasm.

It has been indeed fortunate for Surrey and British tennis that as a young man Ron Presley found that he had an eye for the ball. So I would like the memory of Ron to be a very happy one, a memory that leaves an afterglow of smiles now his life is done. I would like it to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways, of happy times, and laughing times, and bright and sunny days. I would like the tears of those that grieve to dry before the sun, of happy memories that Ron has left now his life is done.

May God bless you and keep you safe my dear friend and may you rest in peace. You will be sorely missed here – I know that – but I’m sure your rewards will be great in heaven.

Tony Scarlett
I first met Ron when I was invited to join Surrey County LTA in 1966, some 44 years ago. Surrey, at that time, wanted some younger councillors. The first to be recruited was Ron in 1962 by Della-Porta who knew Ron from business. In those days we used to meet in an office in Chancery Lane. As there was a shortage of seats, Ron and I had to sit on a window ledge, or on the floor being the new boys. Over time the council met at different locations, such as the Milk Marketing Board at Waterloo, the All England Club, the Bank of England at Roehampton and finally the LTA national training centre at Roehampton.

In 1975 Ron was elected to the council of the LTA as a representative for Surrey. He served on many committees - Development, Commercial (of which he became chairman) plus Hospitality, Finance, Sponsorship, Marketing and National Training.


Ron with HM the Queen, LTA Centenary 1988

He was elected President of the LTA in 1988 and served on the Board of Management until 1990, when he was made a Life Past President. He was also a member of the Committee of Management of the Wimbledon Championships. Possibly he was one of the very few, if not the only one of the LTA who has camped out all night to get into the tennis at Wimbledon. I know he did it for two years.

The second time would have been in the early 50s. He stayed on the Thursday night for the ladies’ final and then went home, had a bath and came back on the Friday night to get into the men’s final. Apparently they used to have races round the outside of the club during the night. At about 6a.m. they were all given a numbered ticket so that they could go home and then come back and take their same place in the queue. They used to make short shrift of queue jumpers.

To make the most of his time Ron was elected to the Tennis Europe Committee of Management where he chaired the Women’s Tennis Committee and also the International Tennis Federation, plus chairman of the Wightman Cup Committee.

During his involvement on the LTA he never let his support and help to Surrey waver and he was our Chairman from 1983 to 2000 and then President in 2000 for the next 9 years.

Apart from his committee work Ron still found time to play tennis and was a member of the All England club. He had a court in his garden and Frances, not to be left out, is very involved in organising mini tennis. Being a member of the All England Club and the LTA, Ron was asked to be chairman of the Wimbledon Museum Committee. He asked me to join him on this committee, so I had first hand knowledge of how much work he put into making the museum you see today being the best in the world.

While Mary and I were working at the Queen's Club Ron was a director of the club and when he joined the board, one of the first things he did was to make sure the staff had good pensions - Mary and I thank him personally. As Queen's is the home of many racket sports, the game of real tennis had to be tried. Mary and I had some games with Frances and Ron.

I don't know where he found the time, but beside tennis and the LTA Ron was asked by Alison Cox MBE to help fund raise for a charity called Cardiac Risk in the Young - CRY. He was the first chairman of the charity which Alison started 15 years ago when she realised these heart conditions were more common than perceived. CRY has now established that there are at least 12 young 35-and-under deaths a week from 'sudden death' syndrome. They now have a screening programme to identify those at risk.

Alison's son, Stephen, had been diagnosed with a heart problem when he went to an American university to play tennis. The charity is to test sportsmen and women to make sure that they are OK to play their sport without danger. The office of the charity was in Alison's home. To put the charity on a proper footing, Alison asked Ron to be CRY's first chairman. After about five years Ron felt that the Chairman should be someone who had a much greater depth of the medical knowledge that was being obtained and he handed over to Dr Greg Whyte, an authority on the subject. Alison then felt the time was right to form a board of trustees with Ron as its first chairman. At this stage Ron asked me to be a trustee, which of course I readily agreed. From then on our early trustees meetings were held in Ron's front room, or in the garden if it was hot.

Frances was in charge of catering and we were well fed. As the charity grew Alison found good offices in Tadworth and we now have many full time staff, and also many famous people as patrons, such as Ian Botham and Steve Redgrave. Having helped get the charity off the ground Ron decided to retire after many years and I followed him a year later, as we both felt it was time to hand over to professional medical people. Through Alison and Ron's input many lives have been saved and many bereaved families helped.

In 1993, with Ron as county chairman and Derek Howorth as treasurer, it was decided we need our own Surrey indoor county training centre. I was secretary at the time and it was a lot of hard work, but we entered into a joint venture partnership with St George's College, Weybridge, and we now have a centre that everyone is proud of. Ron and Derek were appointed directors of the joint venture company and were responsible for the success of this important venue for tennis training. Believe it or not, Ron did have a full time job, as a partner and Chief Executive of the London property surveyors, Edward Erdman, which allowed us to use his expertise when helping Alison to set up offices for CRY, and also the county centre.

I have worked with Ron on so many committees and working groups, both in Surrey and the LTA over 43 years. He well deserved the OBE he received for services to tennis and business achievements. He has given me all his support over these many years. I have only touched on his tennis administration and I apologise for any omissions but it has been a very, very long journey for us both and I will miss him very much indeed.


with the children at Boscastle 1974

Memories from a son
Christopher
In my father I could not ask for a better role model. He was always there to back me, support and guide me, and for that I will always be grateful.

My father read little poetry but the poem I am about to read, in my view epitomises 'an extraordinary life well lived'. The two most famous lines from the poem are above the door as you walk out onto Centre Court from the Wimbledon Clubhouse. Sadly Dad did not play on that hallowed turf but he did make it to the old No. 1 Court before it was pulled down!

You will all be able to pick out from the poem bits that are relevant to you. But it is the diverse range of people here today, to celebrate his life that is most relevant to me.

IF by Rudyard Kipling

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Final Address
Canon David Eaton (recently retired Vicar of Leatherhead)

If you are devotee of long sermons you are going to be disappointed!

We have come together this afternoon to pay tribute to Ron, to celebrate his life and the fine example he has set us all, and we are glad to do so. As we do so we may also reflect on what it was that made Ron the man he was. We hear a lot about how families 'dysfunction', perhaps what we don't hear enough about is what makes for good family life. There are some clues from Ron's early life that may help us find an answer.


Ron about 1932

Ron about 1935

Ron was the eldest of four children born to Henry and Ellen Presley in Kennington South London. After Ron came Jean, John and Pat all of whom are here today. John has written of their love and admiration for their big brother. He says they always enjoyed harmonious relationships with him and admired the outstanding example he set them all .... a poke in the eye, as you might say, for sibling rivalry which has clearly been overrated.

The family Ron grew up in genuinely cared about each other. Henry and Ellen must have had a lot to do with that and the fact that there was exactly four years between each of the children probably helped. How that was achieved I will leave to your imagination. The point is that Ron grew up in a great family and it shaped and directed the life that lay in front of him.

Further evidence of this is that before Ron went to school each day it was his job to help granny get into her corset. Corsets aren't as popular as they were - I can't think why - but before the war they were an essential of every lady's top drawer, I am reliably informed. Ron was obviously a dab hand at pulling on the straps. Kids today - they don't know they are born.

Ron started school at the near by St Phillip's Church Primary. When the war intervened he was evacuated to Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire together with Jean and John and their mum. Dad was in Scapa Flow working on port and harbour construction. After about a year the family returned from Yorkshire to London. They had been split up and happily going home meant they could be together again.


Evacuees - Jean, Ron and John in Yorkshire ca 1942

Back home many nights were spent in the air raid shelter. Their home was bombed but fortunately the incendiary didn't go off. Ron, as kids do, found all this pretty exciting, especially when the Allies started winning the war, for him it was all proper boys own stuff. Back to school in South London Ron passed his 11 plus and went to Archbishop Temple School, thought to be the best in the area, and with a close association to St Mary's Lambeth, the church next to Lambeth Palace. Here Ron was christened and it was here his banns of marriage were later called. He also served there as an altar boy and, knowing Ron, probably popped into the Palace to see the Archbishop from time to time for a chat and a cup of tea. Ron worked hard at school and was head boy. As we have heard when he left school he joined Edward Erdman and never looked back.

In my hearing Ron was always Ron. Perhaps that was because the other possibilities didn't fit. Ronnie wasn't right. He was happy enough to lend his support to a struggling South London tennis club; but I never really saw him as a South London gang leader. Ronald was OK if you were a fast food fan but Ronald McPresley doesn't really have much of a ring about it. Ronald also worked if you are best pals with Mrs Thatcher - which even Ron may have found daunting. So Ron it was.

And it was Ron who was a classic music buff. Glenn Miller and Bing Crosby didn't get a look in when he was growing up. Ron was into opera and had Aida on 28 78 records which he played at home at full volume - which did put a bit of a strain on sibling relations. And of course in sport it was tennis. He started on the public courts at Vauxhall Gardens and went on to join West Norwood Tennis Club where one year he won all three titles. He was unable to walk the next day, which had nothing to do with the tennis but everything to do with the party afterwards.


West Norwood LT Club's trophy winning team - Ron 2nd right

Ron did National Service with the RAF where he spent most of his time at The Air Ministry in Whitehall with the rank of corporal. Fortunately, as Ron saw it, he wore civvies. Otherwise, because everyone else was more senior than Ron, it was like being in a Monty Python sketch, where he never did any work, because he was always saluting. Ron was no doubt at The Air Ministry because of his ability but one of Corporal Presley's great qualities was that he never forgot where he came from.


Ron's National Service was with the RAF

Here was a man who was practically on first name terms with The Queen, and probably Helen Mirren as well - apparently she never could resist suede shoes - who was President of the LTA and a company director, but who never stood on his dignity and treated everyone with great respect. He was genuinely an unassuming and modest man.

 

Ron played a very active part in church life here. He was for ten years on The Friends of Leatherhead Parish Church committee, eight of them as Chairman. The major project during that time was the restoration of the Thomas Parker 18th century organ. The restoration was to prove mildly controversial. Against all the odds we had secured a major heritage lottery grant but a condition was that we raise ten percent ourselves, roughly £20,000.

How was it to be done? Some people thought it wasn't the business of churches to restore organs when there was so much other need in the world, a perfectly legitimate point of view. So how was the money to be raised? Pat said she thought cakes stalls were due for a come back. Martin said that in a rising market house building was the way to go. Alison was sure she knew some sure-fire winners at Newmarket that would do the trick. In the event it was Ron who stepped forward and said leave it to The Friends. The Friends are an independent organisation and so this moved the fundraising away from being a directly church activity, and drew the sting of the controversy. The Vicar could breathe again!

And, of course, The Friends did it, twenty grand and more in the bank, under Ron's capable chairmanship, largely through attracting donations but with some fundraising events as well. People knew they could have every confidence in Ron as well as confidence in the project. It was all part of the development of the Friends as an organisation under Ron's guidance which has made a considerable difference to the well being of this building and churchyard ... and there's the organ to prove it and which appropriately Graham Thorp has played today.

Ron wasn't only a committee man when it came to church life. He was a regular worshipper here. His character and qualities were shaped by his early upbringing, but also by his Christian Faith. He didn't parade it but it was in his heart. It was why he was, as everyone said, a gentleman, modest, kind and generous. This was the way of life he believed in and lived out.

It hasn't been appreciated enough how Ron was one of the first 'new men' to burn his brief case. It's not every husband who can support and encourage their wife in being a JP let alone a churchwarden. But Ron clearly did and was proud to do so. It was all part of the unique partnership which Ron and Frances developed. Their marriage has been one of genuine respect, love and friendship. Married life doesn't always get a good press these days. We all know about the warts, but what we need more of are living examples of good marriages that work. Ron and Frances hadn't set out to do that in any preachy way, but that's what they have achieved. Together they have made a remarkable journey in which we are delighted to have shared.


At Wimbledon in 2008

It is all part of what it means to be Christian in today's world. Graham read to us from the book of Revelation. This passage paints a poetic picture of a heavenly after life: a time when the purposes of God will be fully revealed and all will be well. It is a life we have no doubt Ron will inherit. It is a way of life that isn't restricted to a time to come but one that begins in the present. We work now for an end to suffering and pain. The life Ron has lived paints a picture to us of the qualities which God champions and one day will have full sway on the earth. For Ron, as then so now.

We honour Ron today for these very reasons: for the man he was and the life he lived. He has achieved a great deal not by bluster, or throwing his weight around, or shouting louder than everybody else but by the exact opposite. He shows us that quiet confidence and respect for all, modesty, kindness and faithfulness are the keys to real success. God given and God intended. Ron richly deserved the OBE he was awarded by the Queen - his old friend.


with his mother at Buckingham Palace for the presentation of his OBE (Civil) in March 1991

And, Ron by the way, there is no need to worry about saluting anymore because today with all our hearts we happily, gladly salute you.

HYMN - ALL
Fill your hearts with joy and gladness
Timothy Dudley-Smith, Ludwig van Beethoven (music for Ode to Joy)

Prayers and Blessing
Graham Osborne

The Collect

Father in heaven, we thank you because you made us in your own image and gave us gifts in body, mind and spirit. We thank you now for Ron and what he meant to each of us. As we honour his memory, make us more aware that you are the one from whom comes every perfect gift, including the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Prayers

Father in heaven, we give you thanks for your servant Ron. We praise you as we recollect his life and cherish his memory. We bless you that in bearing your image he has brought light to our lives; for we have seen in his friendship reflections of your compassion, in his integrity demonstrations of your goodness, in his faithfulness glimpses of your eternal love. Grant to each of us, beloved and bereft, the grace to follow his good example so that we with him may come to your everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who died and rose again and opened the gate of glory, to whom be praise for all eternity. Amen.

Lord God, creator of all, you have made us creatures of this earth, but have also promised us a share in life eternal. According to your promises, may all who have died in the peace of Christ share with your saints in the joy of heaven, where there is neither sorrow nor pain but life everlasting. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Commendation and Dismissal

Almighty God, in your great love you crafted us by your hand and breathed life into us by your Spirit. Although we became a rebellious people, you did not abandon us to our sin. In your tender mercy you sent your Son to restore in us your image. In obedience to your will he gave up his life for us, bearing in his body our sins on the cross. By your mighty power you raised him from the grave and exalted him to the throne of glory.

Rejoicing in his victory and trusting in your promise to make alive all who turn to Christ, we commend Ron to your mercy and we join with all your faithful people and the whole company of heaven in the one unending song of praise: glory and wisdom and honour be to our God for ever and ever. Amen.

A Celtic Blessing

Ron, be free, be strong, be proud of who you have been.

Know that you will be mourned and missed,
that no one can replace you,
that you have loved and are beloved.

Now, go forth upon your journey
in the name of God who created you.
May you be precious in his sight.

May he grant you life and light in his kingdom,
where the light of his countenance
shines for ever and all tears are wiped away
and there is no more pain.

And with the setting of the sun,
the angels bear you over the grapeseed to Paradise,
there you shall climb,
and reach the top of the everlasting hills,
where the winds are cool and the sight is glorious.

Ron, into the freedom of wind and sunshine, we let you go.
Into the dance of the stars and planets, we let you go.
Into the winds-breath, and the hands of the star-maker,
we let you go

Go swiftly,
go dancing,
go running,
home

The Blessing
May the love of the Lord Jesus draw you to himself, May the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen you in His service, May the joy of the Lord Jesus fill your hearts, And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with you, and remain with you and those whom you love and pray for in this world and the next, this day and evermore. Amen

Exit Music
Music from Die Fledermaus - Johann Strauss

We would be very pleased if you would join us afterwards for refreshments (and a patisserie or two!) in the parish hall opposite the church.


Ron has a bite - Dinton Mill Pond


Ron Presley OBE, announcements

The Times, December 16 2009
Ronald John Presley On Wednesday 9th December 2009, Ronald John Presley OBE, died peacefully after a short illness. Dearly loved husband of Frances, father of Chris, Nick, Mark and Adam, much loved by his six grandchildren, and brother and two sisters. There will be a private family cremation before Christmas, family flowers only. A Memorial Service will be planned in the New Year when donations to CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) will be much appreciated.

CRY Cardiac Risk in the Young website
Lawn Tennis Association website

CRY - from the May 2010 parish magazine

Over £2000 was sent to CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) after the Memorial Service to Ron. Both CRY and I would like to thank everyone who chose to remember him in this way; he would have been truly amazed, not only at the numbers who attended on the 24th February but also at the amount of money sent.
Frances Presley

Ron Presley - from the Feb 2010 magazine

It is only now that I fully appreciate what is meant when people say thank you in this magazine for the thoughts and prayers of those who have written in response to the death of someone close. I don't really know where to start to say thank you to all of you who have written to me after Ron died in December. As a family we have had so many lovely letters, cards and emails, not to mention phone calls, and we would all like to say such a big thank you for every single one.

The Service to remember him will be held in the Parish Church on Wednesday 24 February at 3pm and there will be tea afterwards in the Hall.
Frances, Christopher, Nicholas, Mark and Adam

A Visit to Berlin in March 1990 - from the December 2014 magazine

During the years that Ron and I were involved with tennis we were lucky enough to go to many historical places at some of the most historical times. With the 25th anniversary of the destruction of the Berlin Wall just past I was reminded of a meeting that was arranged for Tennis Europe, of which Ron was one of the founder members, in Berlin. It was arranged for March 1990 in East Berlin - where the hotels were cheaper than in West Berlin.

As we usually did we went a few days earlier to make our own tour, and walked through Check Point Charlie which was still standing but had doors off and broken windows, a sorry sight. On both sides of the Brandenburg Gate there were plenty of "entrepreneurs" selling all manner of badges, uniforms, pieces of wall, and other mementos of the end of the Wall. We also came across Cliff Michelmore making a programme for the BBC.

I was astonished to find that a Benetton outlet had already been set up in one of the old red brick blocks just metres from the remaining remnants of the wall - free enterprise moves fast.

We went to the Berlin Opera House where, in front of Hitler, Wilhelm Furtwangler had refused to give the whole Nazi salute but disguised it in some way by waving his baton. With Ron at meetings I was taken to the Kurfurstendamm, at that time the only real shopping area in Berlin, and when I took the train back to the hotel I could not understand why it was absolutely packed with people laden with parcels. I then realised that the East Berliners had been over to the West and had been buying the kitchen items that had just become available to them - kettles, irons, mixers, you name it; a washing machine was even being pulled on a trolley.

However, my one lasting memory of the old East Berlin is the service we went to on the Sunday in a church that had just been re-opened. A choir of children from all over the city, East and West, sang songs and hymns of thanksgiving. That was unforgettable.

We went to Bucharest three months after the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu -but that is another story.

Frances Presley

Davis Cup 1978 - from the January 2016 Parish Magazine

[Frances Presley writes] I was ten days old when Great Britain last won the Davis Cup, which took place at Wimbledon in July 1936, and the last time that GB was in the final was in 1978 and I was lucky enough to be there. In October we had watched the British team beat New Zealand in the semi-finals at Crystal Palace, one of those rare matches in which John Lloyd could do no wrong, and the rest of the team of David Lloyd, Buster Mottram, and Mark Cox all played their part in winning through to the final. This was the famous occasion when one of the, rather more mature, lady line judges fell asleep on her chair!

Ron came home one evening in November and asked if I would like to go to the final which was to be held in Palm Springs, California, at the Country Club of Mission Hills. There were still four boys at home, the youngest being 9 years, but I had never been to California let alone to a major occasion like that. A call to my parents - what would we do without grandparents - and my mother, who was a great traveller, said go, go, go!

December in that part of the world is all contrasts. In the daytime the temperature rose to the 60s and 70s but once the sun had gone below the mountain range it plummeted to freezing and below. It was the first time that I had ever seen a mink coat being worn over a very upmarket velour track suit, and it was the first time that I found out what a condominium was. It was also strange to see all the Christmas decorations waving in the hot sun and then frozen stiff at night, and I was introduced to ice sculpture in the form of swans floating on a lake. One morning we all went up the mountain in a cable car where there was snow about a foot deep and ski trails all over the place, and you could look down to the valley and see people in shirt sleeves.

This was the first time that John McEnroe had played for the USA and he blasted his opponents off the court, in fact John Lloyd mentioned when he was in Belgium that he had never had to stand up to such fierce hitting. Buster Mottram was the only GB player to win a match when he beat Brian Gottfried, and we lost the match 4-1. When the matches continued after the sun had gone, guess who departed to the warmth of the clubhouse and guess who were still sitting stoically outside. We were not, then, the only ones with rather old line judges. One of our party was heard to say in a very loud voice when the line judges walked to their positions, "I see they have brought on the geriatrics then" - not much change that side of the Atlantic then, although I don't think that would happen today.

The hospitality of the Americans was quite outstanding, I had never seen such fantastic table spreads in my life, and we were welcomed and entertained wherever we went. However, one of my most abiding memories is still a comment made by the, then, Chairman of the All England Club, Buzzer Hadingham, when he was watching a friendly match between the LTA and the Press, The LTA was winning and one of the Press men hit a really bad shot and he swore very loudly ending with "Jesus Christ"! Buzzer stood up and said so that all could hear, "I don't think that He will help you".

[In the photo of Ron with The Davis Cup in 1978 earlier on this page notice that it is standing only on two tiers at that time.]

Unfortunately, I did not have a camera with me at the time, and it was well before the time of mobile phones, but while it [the Davis Cup] was on display the amazing Stan Smith happened to be close by holding his very new baby son and he laid him in the cup, it was a perfect fit!
Frances Presley


Chris Evans, Chairman of the Friends of Leatherhead Parish Church: 9 Mar 2010: As a relative newcomer to Leatherhead I only had the privilege of knowing Ron for a short time. My abiding memory of him will be of someone of immense courtesy, warmth and kindness, never letting slip an opportunity to engage in conversation and forever interested in and supportive of what the Friends, from which he had only recently stepped down as Chairman, were planning on next in order to raise funds for the Church.

Frank Haslam, Treasurer of the Friends of Leatherhead Parish Church: 9 Mar 2010: Through the Friends, interest in the progress of our boys especially Philip, and Jane's membership of the choir we have like so many experienced Ron and Frances's warmth and kindness. Funny how you recall the little things - that slight cough as Ron came up with an idea or solution ...


Images unless otherwise specified are via the Presley family
This page was last updated on 18 Jan 2016: no responsibility is taken for external websites. If you have more photos of Ron or further remembrance to add, please contact Frank Haslam, the editor of these pages.

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