Tennis

Ronald Swash 31st July 1930 - 13th October 2015

03 Dec 2015

Royal Tennis Court Treasurer 1976-1980. Chairman 1980-1988


Ronald was born in West Norwood. His earliest memory was of the great fire that destroyed the Crystal Palace. On the evening of 30th November 1936 his mother woke him, and told him and his siblings to look out of their bedroom window, as there was a sight to behold that they would remember all their lives. She was quite right. It is possible that his support for Crystal Palace FC began at this point.

Ron went to Llandovery College as a boarder during the war but the family were back before the end of 1945 in London where he continued his studies at Oundle.

On finishing school Ron started National Service. On 18 November, 1948 he joined the army, and, being bright, was assigned to the Intelligence Corps. They soon made good use of him, and he was posted to Trieste, Italy. During this time Ronald learnt to ride a motorbike, and speak excellent Italian. He also befriended Jack Bailey who later went on to become Secretary of MCC, and was responsible for Ron becoming a member at Lords where he was always a generous host.

After de-mobilisation, Ronald went up to Oxford to read Modern Languages at St John’s, although he would later convert to a Law Degree. He admitted that playing sport was given equal weight to studying; he gained a Half Blue for Fives, and played Lawn Tennis for his college. After graduation, Ron took a job with Metal Box, and headed north. His sporting life continued, and while he was working for Metal Box he also played Rugby Football for Liverpool wearing a No 15 shirt.

Ronald joined the Institute of Chartered Accountants after a spell working in Cambridge, but while he had been there he started to play Real Tennis. Ron had found his sporting love. Over the following years he became very closely involved with the game, and very nearly fulfilled his ambition of playing all of the 45 Real Tennis Courts around the world. As Chairman of RTC he put together an excellent and efficient committee and developed the system of sub-committee reporting. He was always conscious of the good for tennis worldwide and, at a national level, served on the Tennis and Rackets Association and was captain of Britain’s Bathurst Cup team in Australia in 1988. Ronald was a very proficient doubles player, with a handicap of around 20; and he won the prestigious National Pro-Am event in 1980. He always played with a towel around his neck, and was unfailingly courteous in victory and generous in defeat.

After a spell teaching Business Studies to bored teenagers, he joined the Royal Meteorological Society as Executive Secretary, the first non-Meteorologist to hold the post. This was a happy final spell of work, and he retired, at the age of 70, with plaudits ringing in his ears.

Ron was always a generous volunteer of his own time. He was active in the local community, and worked very hard to raise funds for Thames Ditton Village Hall.

After retiring Ron and Jenny, whom he had married at the age of 40, moved from Thames Ditton to Holford, . From there, he ran a charity in his mother’s name and also helped raise the money for fives courts at Oxford.

He was scrupulously fair, self-deprecating, honourable, thrifty, but always generous and a dedicated family man to his wife’s three children.

He was effortlessly witty and his telling of a story revealed not only a great sense of humour but a memory for detail, Jane Vaughan remembers him as being so supportive and with great attention to those details. “When I was helping with an RTC Dinner he asked me to do the place-name cards - On the night, horror! - I'd left them at home ...Whereupon Ronald produced a spare set from his pocket”

Les Ronaldson


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