When I came to Norfolk, over 5 years ago now, I looked around for somewhere to play golf, and joined a new club. It was much more serious than the place I’d played before, and quite intimidating for a newbie, although most of the players tried not to make it so. One of those who welcomed me and drew me in, played with me more often than not, was Daphne.
Already over 80 years, she was a frail-looking, but surprising tough old bird! She had overcome at least one version of cancer, and laughingly told stories of how huge she used to be, but after the cancer when part of her stomach had been removed, she had shrunk down to a svelte figure, partly as she couldnt eat large meals and generally only had quarter portions of certain things.
Everyone in Norfolk golf knew Daphne, it seemed, as I played with her in many ‘friendly’ matches against other clubs. If I wasn’t too bad on the day we often won, since Daphne may have lost her length of hitting, but she was a demon round the greens! She had won most of the competitions over the years, it seemed. She must have been quite something in her youth.
But it wasn’t just her attitude to golf that caught you up in her circle. It was her vitality, her enthusiasm, her determination to make the best of things. She became my role model for overcoming obstacles, my aim to be playing golf when I was her age. She was a joy to be around. On the one hand we can’t imagine the havoc she and Catherine wreaked on Scotland when they went on holiday there, but on the other hand we can! They had a whale of a time and followed this first trip with another one to Turkey I think it was. Another one was planned to Lanzarote, since Catherine knew that after her recent illness she would not be quite so energetic.
Sadly the cancer caught up with her again. I saw her last at one of the other ladies’ 80th birthday party. “You youngsters!” Daphne called us (and I was one of only two there under 60!) I sat next to her and enjoyed her company as I had at many functions in the last five years. She went into hospital for an exploration of a new problem a few days later, which led to a further examination, and I think we all feared bad news. It was bad, but worse was that Daphne had a suspected heart attack and died last Saturday morning. As someone said today, a happy release, given the prognosis.
I knew you for far too little time, Daphne, but at least I had the honour of knowing you. You are my inspiration, and I will try to carry on where you left off. But I will miss your laugh, your smile, and that wicked glint in your eye.