By Geoff Garnett
COMPLETING 50 years as a member of the same club is a relatively common occurrence, but a husband and wife pair have clocked up a remarkable combined 100 years between them at Reddish Vale.
John and Shirley Blakey were married in 1957 then settled in Heaton Moor and, although not perhaps expecting to, have remained there ever since. They were both keen participants in various sports but, with busy working lives continued only with tennis (the game which had actually brought them together from an early age because they could enjoy it together).
Golf interest gradually developed from the mid-60’s. John acquired a few clubs, played with friends on holiday and began to think about joining a club. “Reddish Vale seemed the most challenging and attractive proposition,” he explained.
Shirley’s interest began more suddenly on holiday in Ireland when she asked if she could have a go and, borrowing a club, hit the ball out of sight over the sand dunes! A focusing problem had interfered with her tennis and, from that time, golf took over. They both joined Reddish Vale in 1969 and soon began to enjoy the game and the club. John simply went and played and learned a lot from good golfers he was able to play with and he handicap dropped as low as 12, but tennis remained very important to him too. Shirley did it properly, having some lessons and practice before entering competitions. Her handicap soon began to fall quite a lot and she quickly became a sought-after partner for Mixed Opens.
They had much enjoyment playing together on holiday and in Mixed Competitions. Shirley joined the Ladies Committee and John the Council in 1977, but it was in 1979 that things really happened. Shirley became lady captain and John was somehow persuaded to take up the position of secretary.
John was captain in 1983 but returned as secretary in 1985 and continued until his presidency in 1995/6, after which he was made a Life Member. He played a full part in the life of the club and was a regular supporter of the Society of Manchester and District Captains and Cheshire Union competitions and social events.
After 18 months as lady captain (due to a change of club year) Shirley continued to play a prominent part in the affairs of the ladies’ section for many years. Finding it not possible to play on ladies’ day, she also joined Wilmslow for a spell, winning some major prizes and serving as lady treasurer for several years. She continued to play most of her golf at Reddish and was eventually made an honorary member.
John is still playing but unfortunately health problems have recently brought an end to Shirley’s playing.