Paul Berry remembers his friend and colleague Jim Alldis
It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of Jim Alldis, head groundsman and cricketer par excellence at West Buckland from 1985 to 2000. He died peacefully at home in Old Windsor on Saturday July 22nd, after a long illness.
Jim was devoted to the school and to its grounds, particularly the cricket pitches and the First XI square above all. One evening after I had finished duty at the usual time in those days of 10 p.m., I noticed some activity on the First XI wicket. I walked over to see what was afoot and found Jim struggling to re-attach the hoses on the covers to ensure that the wicket was in perfect condition for the following day’s match. When I saw Pam that day I asked if Jim had got home before 11 p.m?“ Oh yes, she said, but he was back out there at six o’clock this morning to make sure everything was OK.”
As well as his devotion to his job Jim was a congenial companion with a wicked sense of humour and was delighted when his efforts on behalf of the school were acknowledged. In all weathers he seemed to be quite happy tending to the pitches wearing jeans, trainers, a thin jacket and his beloved Chelsea F.C. scarf. The pavilion blossomed under his care and there was always a cuppa or a beer for any adults who were there to support the matches. He also made the West Buckland wicket the finest in North Devon and it became a mecca for junior county matches. He was also immensely proud of his son Tim, playing for a junior England team in the West Indies.
He could also be quite fierce if any disrespect was shown to his cricket pitch. There was an occasion when the visiting under 14 Rugby players were kicking a ball round on the cricket out-field despite Jim’s large notices prohibiting such activity. He flew out of the pavilion, angrily enquiring, ”Oi! can you not read?” He was severely chastened when the boy said, “Sorry, Sir! No I can’t! I’m dyslexic!” His embarrassment was not helped by several other visitors admitting the same problem. He said “I just wished a big hole would open up and swallow me!” Not on the out-field, presumably!
Before his time at West Buckland Jim played cricket to a high level at Middlesex C.C.C, Metropolitan Police College and the M.C.C. as a young professional. He was a slow left hand bowler and a sound batsman and put his skills at the disposal of the young players at WBS. He also spent time acquiring the “Knowledge” in order to drive a black cab in London and regaled us with his tale of driving Tommy Cooper back to the comedian’s digs after a show.
After WBS,Jim, Pam and family moved back to the South-East where he continued to work as a groundsman .
We offer Pam, Tim and Lauren our sincere condolences.