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Farewell Sam Beale (1947-2021)

Feb 13, 2021
Sam's departure will be felt in Bristol and across the Real Tennis and Rackets community. An inspiration to so many of today's youngsters (as well as the not-so-young).

The T&RA is deeply saddened to report the passing away of Sam Beale. Sam had been suffering with a long term illness (cancer) for some time, and he passed away at home peacefully with his family by his side yesterday. Despite knowing he had a difficult prognosis, Sam appeared to approach his illness with humour and great courage.

Sam has been a lifelong supporter of the Association and was always the most generous of hosts, along with his wife, Eleanor, whenever anybody was in the Bristol/Clifton area. A stalwart of the Boasters Weekends, Sam was always keen to get involved. Sam was also a great inspiration to countless young Rackets players and a most attentive master-of-ceremonies whenever the Knott-Stephens Tour was in the West Country.

There wasn't much which Sam didn't do; an eminent engineer, a keen sportsman and a family man. He served on the Rackets Committee and used his engineering background to good effect when considering the future development of the Rackets ball; with the "Beale Ball" as a lasting legacy.

The Games has lost a true supporter and a gentleman - he will be missed. Our heartfelt condolences to Eleanor and his four children, Sarah, James, Emma and John.

Second photograph from 2015 when Sam and James Blackburn won Bristol Real Tennis Club’s Handicap Doubles for the second year running. This match in particular was an extraordinary turn around saving no less than 13 match points to win!

Sam was one of life’s true ‘givers’. He contributed massively to everybody at Clifton, connecting together through a mutual love of sport. He has had an enormous contribution to the game of Rackets as a whole, helping to keep people on court of all ages to form a love of the game. Clifton will look to continue his spirit in the club, long after he has gone. Many will have fond memories of attending Boasters Weekends and Sam’s unique inclusion of completely made-up sports, such as Racketball-fives!

Christopher Keith Beale, know to everyone as Sam, married Eleanor Vickers in 1974. They had met at Durham University, where Sam had gone to study Physics, and had stayed to complete a PhD. He had left Marlborough early, before his A levels, and had worked in a local garage while studying to get his A levels, after someone had told him that in order to work for a racing car outfit he would need to be an engineering graduate. He worked after leaving Durham for March Engineering, who ran a Formula one team, and Sam was, for a while, their chief engineer.

When he married, or when they had their first child, he gave up trying to be a driver himself, though continued to have a Go-Kart, and then a Formula Ford racing car.

After he left March he went to work for Rolls Royce as part of the team working on the turbine blades for the aero engines. He worked firstly in Derby, and later they moved to Bristol. He and Eleanor, who became a teacher for dyslexic children had four children. Sarah, who is a senior nurse, James who works in the undersea cabling industry, Emma who is an expert in handicraft, and John who is currently working in Geneva for a biochemical company.

Sam and Eleanor have ten grandchildren.

Since they moved to Bristol Sam and Ellie both became very involved with the Clifton Real Tennis Court, and Sam also played squash and Rackets. Their son John was a Real Tennis Blue (2011/2012/2013) and a Rackets Blue (2012) at Oxford, when doing his PhD.

Family Summer holidays have always been on Hayling Island where Eleanor’s family have had a house for very many years, and the house is their summer base, and Seacourt, and Hayling Island Sailing Club, until this year their summer playground.

Sam died Friday 12th after a struggle with prostate cancer. As his two mathematical sons have both said, he would have been pleased to leave on a very unusual palindromic date, as yesterday was, and with all his children around them.

For some years Sam had been involved with the search for a replacement Rackets ball. Above almost everything else he was a family man, with an enormous enthusiasm for indoor ball games, particularly Real Tennis and Rackets. In the wider family he will be very much missed as an organiser of garden games for his children, his numerous nephews and nieces, and for his children and grandchildren.

Christopher Keith Beale, 3/5/47 - 12/2/21.

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