David Hodgkiss OBE: Obituary
Rev. Malcolm Lorimer pens a personal tribute to David Hodgkiss OBE
The realities and effects of the Coronavirus are brought home when someone you love and counted as a friend is caught up in this awful and deadly maelstrom. We all mourn the untimely death of Lancashire Cricket Chairman David Hodgkiss OBE.
When you met David, you were immediately struck by his modesty and unassuming manner. He was the Chief Executive of William Hare Construction, a Bolton steel company, with a passion for Bolton Wanderers, cricket and Timothy Taylors beer!
His first contact with the game came at Repton School, where he was an opening bat and useful slip fielder. He studied economics at Liverpool University and for a short time became a hippie! Thankfully that phase didn’t last too long as cricket came to the rescue and he played for Cockermouth in Cumbria for many years.
His involvement with Lancashire came when John Savage rang David at William Hare’s to ask if a young draughtsman, Mike Watkinson, could be released to play for the Second X1. David readily agreed and supported Mike during his career enabling him to have time off work to play cricket and a giving him a job in the winter.
In 1996 Mike asked him to be his Benefit Chairman and David said: “He foolishly agreed!” He was very much a hands-on Chairman, even going into the middle of the Yorkshire supporters during a One-Day semi-final to collect for Mike. He said: “I think I collected 5p and was lucky to get out alive, it didn’t help that during the collection Mike took two wickets! But I enjoyed the banter with the crowd.”
In 1998 he joined the Committee and made an immediate impression with his business acumen and a detailed knowledge of the construction industry which was integral to the launch of the ambitious re-development of the ground. He also saw the transition from a Committee structure to a Board managing the Club.
David became Honorary Treasurer from 2003 -2013 and he presided over a rollercoaster of financial results during one of the most challenging periods in the Club’s history. His expertise in the building industry was critical in helping to complete the £60million redevelopment.
While he held this position, he still managed the operations of a successful global steel construction business and was awarded the OBE for services to business and exports.
During his time as Vice-Chairman and Chairman, David always had a firm belief in looking after the players and in the Club having a good youth policy. He also was interested in Members and had a particular interest in promoting the heritage of the Club – the museum was going to be one of his lasting legacies when the redevelopment of the ground was completed.
David had a particular skill in developing friendships with people from all walks of life. There was no surprise of him inviting the Lancashire supporters who had made the journey to Abu Dhabi for a pre-season practice to drinks and a meal in the team’s hotel.
He was passionate about the countryside, ecology and country sports, he loved walking the hills and moors of Northern England and Scotland. A more than competent fly-fisherman he was very much at home in waders in the middle of a river. He loved life, always gave himself fully in everything that he was involved in and was great fun to be around. He cared for people and, unusually for someone who was naturally shy, engaged fully with everyone he met.
No wonder the ECB regarded him highly and used him in various ways, as he made a valuable contribution which was very much appreciated. He helped develop and foster links in the cricket world which helped to secure major international matches in the north-west.
It was very moving to read the Twitter feed in response to the announcement from the Club about David’s death. The players’ comments speak how highly he was regarded and what they felt about him. In particular, Matt Parkinson spoke about how he will never forget David’s speech which he made when he gave him his county cap – it moved him so much.
It will not just be the Board members who shed a tear over the loss of David, it will be all members of staff at Emirates Old Trafford, from the housekeeping team, to the players and Members. He touched us all, that was the mark of the man.
We send our love to his wife Shirley and their family in their loss.