By David Chalk - 10th September 2020 4:00pm
A tribute to Ian Chalk, written by his son, David
On 29th August, the day of his 89th birthday, Ian Chalk, a lifelong lover of cricket, having built a truly inspiring innings, faced the inevitable unplayable delivery from Parkinson's and sadly left the field of play.
Ian had lived in Haddenham for 60 years and had just about been accepted as a local! His active involvement in village life over so many years led some to consider him its unofficial "mayor".
Born in 1931 he grew up in the village of Stapleford in Cambridgeshire. He vividly recalled the Battle of Britain as nearby Duxford was home to a Spitfire squadron and he would cycle there to count the fighters out and back. He also remembered the terrible suffering of the Cambridgeshire Regiment, many of whom were captured by the Japanese when Singapore fell in 1942. His respect for them and the many who made the ultimate sacrifice during WWII motivated him to be a dedicated collector for the annual Poppy Appeal for more than 35 years.
In his teens Ian attended Newport Grammar School in Essex. He made no claim to be a great scholar but here he developed his love of sport. He was a talented centre forward, but his real passion was for cricket, playing for both Essex and Cambridgeshire representative teams. He also captained Sawston cricket club, one of the top teams in the county. It was at the cricket club that he met Jean, whose father was the scorer. They married in December 1955 and she was his beloved wife for 63 years. He always said it was the best decision he ever made.
In the early 50's he began his career at Spicers in Sawston. Starting on the factory floor, he quickly became a foreman and then a sales rep. In 1961 he was given the opportunity to move with his young family to Haddenham to run the small Spicers factory, where Spicers Yard and Printers Piece are now. The factory had been earmarked for closure but under Ian's management it turned around and successfully produced photo albums for many decades.
Ian passed up opportunities for promotion because he did not want to leave Haddenham and wanted to enjoy his three sons, David, Andrew and Michael, growing up. However, when they went to secondary school, he decided he should focus more on his career.
After a number of moves within the company he became the overall Managing Director of Spicers Ltd in Sawston where he had started. However, he refused to leave Haddenham and for many years commuted for nearly 2 hours each way by car! He won further promotions and his swan song was in 1988 when, as a director of Reedpack, he took part in what was then the UK's then largest ever management buy-out. He remembered coming home and telling Jean they had borrowed £608 million.....she just said "Oh"!
Despite having a young family to whom he was devoted, and a busy career, Ian also became actively involved in the life of the community.
He continued his love affair with cricket by playing as a very effective seam bowler for High Wycombe who, in the days before the John Player Sunday League, regularly played first class county sides on Sundays — and 'Dan' took the wickets of a number of well-known county and international cricketers.
When he turned 40 he decided to hang up his pads, but then took up another hobby, growing dahlias. Under the guidance of Fred Miles, and later with help from Mick Penn, he successfully exhibited at many local shows and won a gold medal at the Royal Horticultural Society's national show in London. This interest also led him to become a steward at the Bucks County Show and president of Haddenham Horticultural Society.
But his activities extended well beyond his hobbies and into public life. He served as a Haddenham parish councillor between 1965-74 and also as its chairman (1971-73). In the early 1970's he was elected as an independent councillor for 5 years on what became Aylesbury Vale District Council — he was very proud of defeating the political parties' nominees!
In Haddenham he also served on the village committee which raised more than £130,000 for much needed repairs to St. Mary's Church in the early 1990s. He was a governor of St. Mary's School and the first chair of governors of the now Haddenham Community Junior School. He was also a founder member of Haddenham Village Society, president of Haddenham United Football Club, president of the Probus Club of Haddenham and Thame, and a founder member and former master of the Haddenham Lodge of Freemasons, for whom he also did significant charitable work over many years at a national level. Latterly he greatly enjoyed serving as a Trustee of the Haddenham Parish Charities.
Despite his many achievements Ian always remained a grounded and humble man with a marvellously dry sense of humour. He liked nothing more than a few pints, a game of dominoes and catching up on local news in the Kings Head at the weekend. His family were everything to him and when his grandchildren came along he absolutely doted on them. He very rarely scolded; he would rather focus on the positives and encourage.
A natural "people person" he could talk to anyone, but had little time for those with "airs and graces". His philosophy was that you should treat others how you would wish to be treated, and that if you saw a problem you should not moan but try to do something about it. It made him a natural leader. The many tributes to him describe him as kind, caring, generous with his time and his wisdom, supportive, witty, a wonderful friend and one of life's true gentlemen. His really was a rich life well lived. The "mayor of Haddenham" who so positively touched the lives of so many will be sorely missed.
A small family service will be held at 10.15am at the Chiltern Crematorium in Amersham on 18th September. The family will follow the hearse from 48A Townside, leaving there at 9.30am. They will go down Townside, past his beloved Kings Head and then on towards the church, giving people who would like to pay their respects along the route the opportunity to do so.
His family plan to hold a larger Service of Thanksgiving in Haddenham when times permit and have asked that anyone wishing to honour Ian's life should send donations c/o FJ Wilson Funeral Directors, Greenway, Haddenham, HP17 8BJ. The proceeds will be donated to the Haddenham Parish Charities and to Parkinson's UK.