Melvyn Mary Hickey

06 Oct 2016

Melvyn Mary Hickey was born in Stourbridge in 1930,  the youngest of two children. Her older brother, Raymond, died in 1995 but he was the reason why she had such a competitive spirit. She always needed to climb every tree higher than he did. She excelled in all sports and first played hockey at Kidderminster High School for girls. After training as a PE teacher at Lady Mabel College of physical education near Rotherham in South Yorkshire she began her teaching career at Joseph Leckie comprehensive school in Walsall. Whilst representing Worcestershire from 1955 she  became a fixture in the Midlands team. She won the first of her 62 England caps against Ireland in 1957, also representing England on tours to South Africa in 1954, Australia in 1956, The Netherlands in 1959 and the USA in 1963. Many female T&RA members will remember watching her at Wembley. She moved south in the late 1950s living on a houseboat on Taggs Island, opposite Hampton Court, where former hockey team-mates recall numerous late-night parties. Taking up posts at local schools she frequently honed her shooting skills against the first 11 goalkeepers. After a romantic and enduring love affair with  Laurie Pignon they married in 1968. Although he had had an unhappy first marriage she agreed to be named in his divorce. The next season the English committee did not select her for the team:- a massively controversial decision!  Her surviving step-daughters describe her as a "wonderful, wonderful friend". Life with Laurie was never dull. Melvyn and her adored "Pignon" enjoyed an idyllic existence in a little cottage in Sunbury .  She was a wonderful cook and hostess and   also made her own curtains and bedspreads. Once, when Pignon was away on a trip, she decorated the entire house by herself !  She was widely acknowledged as a witty and brilliant writer  for Hockey Field magazine and the All England Women's Hockey Association. 1n 1962 she had written a book called Hockey for Women.

The reason why this talented sportswoman took up Tennis  was because she had won a racket at Queens club after a  competition between sports correspondents. She was easily the best of those first-time players. She became a popular and enthusiastic supporter of Real Tennis and gave back to our sport her time and energy by becoming the secretary for the Ladies Real Tennis Association for many years and doing a wonderful job on their committee.  At the Royal Tennis Court she was a popular opponent, always competitive but charming, gracious and off court a friend to everybody she knew. There was  never a bad word to be said  about anyone. It was tragic that she was diagnosed with dementia in 2010 but although a terrible blow to someone with such a lively mind she fought it tooth and nail. On September 4 Melvyn died of a chest infection aged 86. She was a great lady.

Lesley Ronaldson

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