Bringing Chess to Visually Impaired People

The Gazette - February 2009

Edited by Guy Whitehouse
The views expressed in the Gazette do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the BCA, nor those of the editor.

Obituary for Shirley Watkins

Shirley Watkins, 1932/2008. Shirley died on 18th October 2008 following a period battling against Myasthenia Gravis.

Shirley was borne on 4th September 1932 at Thorpe Bay in Essex. Around the outbreak of the Second World War her family moved nearer to London, and Shirley attended Loughton Girls High School. When she was about 18 she went to the rehabilitation and assessment centre at Torquay where she met Dez, a tall, dark, handsome Welshman. They married and had two children, Janet and Alan.

Their first years of married life were extremely hard, particularly when Dez had a spell in hospital with TB, but they worked hard and eventually managed to buy a house in Barnet where they lived until they retired. At this point they moved to St. Annes not far away from their daughter Jan and her husband Bruce who live in Blackpool.

When Dez died, Shirley found the upkeep of the bungalow and large garden, which they had prized, too much to cope with and she bought herself a smaller property in Blackpool where she lived for the rest of her life, apart from some spells in hospital and nursing homes when her health was declining.

How can one describe such a many facetted character as Shirley? She was compassionate, warm and caring; She was full of fun with an impish sense of humour; She was active in mind and body, always on the move, never still for more than a few moments; She was also thoughtful and strong and hated any form of injustice or discrimination.

She was also very interested in politics and she twice stood as a liberal candidate in Blackpool council elections, narrowly failing to be elected. One of Shirley's proudest achievements was the setting up of a swimming club for the disabled in Blackpool which she helped to run for many years.

Shirley did not pretend to be a great chess player, but she always enjoyed the tussle. She learned to play at a time when Dez was becoming less mobile owing to his heart condition. They spent many happy hours with the chess board between them and she was always excited when she managed the odd win.

We shall miss her and our sympathy goes out to Jan and Bruce, Alan and Anna and to all her family.

Should anyone wish to make a donation to the Myesthenia Gravis Association in memory of Shirley, their address is: MGA, First Floor, Southgate Business Centre, Normanton Road, Derby, DE23 6UQ. Credit card donations can be made by telephone on 01332 290219.

Stan Lovell.