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A Tribute to Eric Todd

The following is a tribute written by Neil Brierley as General Secretary and Trustee of BATTS and the Norman Booth Centre:

 

An extraordinary era sadly ended when Eric Todd passed away on 28th November at the age of 87. Eric was a wonderful human being as well as a lifelong servant to the community giving far more than he ever took in return.

 

He was a friend to me for more than 50 years and it's my pleasure to tell you something about him.

Born in 1933, he grew up in North London and was a huge Arsenal fan, partly redeemed by the fact that his son Stuart is equally fanatical about Spurs.

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In the early 60s, now married to Janet, they heard about a self build project in Harlow. Here was a golden opportunity to get on the housing ladder. The commitment was huge, and ran for several years, with stories of being fined ten bob (a lot of money in those days) if you were late. Here they met Brian Meerloo, and they remained friends all their lives through a shared passion for table tennis.

Eric's involvement with the Harlow Table Tennis League is summed up by the League Secretary, John Barnes who penned this tribute below:

"Eric became Chairman in 1980, He had been on the committee from around 1970 until 2018 attending around 200 committee meetings and close on 50 AGMs One can imagine how much time he had devoted to our sport over the years.

 

Eric became President of the League in 2006. Before taking on this he also held the new Welfare Officer post from about 2005 to 2007. Eric was running and playing in a Veterans Interleague team up to 2001.

 

Before that he won many League Veteran Singles, Men's and Mixed Doubles, Over 60s and Tesco Handicap Singles titles. He was seen to be very busy. Eric made a major contribution to table tennis in general.

 

He started coaching at St John's Arc in 1987. At first, Stuart Gibbs helped him. Then he persuaded Dave Wright and Neil Brierley to get involved. That moved on to Burnt Mill School in 1992 and then Norman Booth Centre in 2006. So for 31 years, he had been involved in developing the sport.

 

His involvement in the Harlow League spanned around 52 of the 62 years that the Harlow League has been in existence. It is doubtful his like will be seen again. All held him in great affection."

John Barnes

His service to the sport was recognised by Essex County and he won the prestigious Corti Woodcock award and was made an honorary life member.

Eric was a very successful businessman supplying office systems to companies large and small. His daughter Sharon worked with him.

Freemasonry was another passion and fitted closely with his philosophy of helping others. Again he rose to the top and served a spell as master of the lodge.

They moved to a wonderful house in Takeley and threw memorable parties where legends of the game like Bobby Stevens, Brian Brumwell and Stuart Gibbs were guests.

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When Eric's table tennis playing days were over, he and Janet took up bowls with the same zest they applied to everything. This was something they could share together and they became highly proficient.

Eric and Janet were childhood sweethearts and their love blossomed from the time he walked her to school . They were married in 1955 and remained devoted to each other until she passed away last year. They had three children: Dawn, Stuart, and Sharon (who is still heavily involved with BATTS as a Trustee herself), seven grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren. 

How will I remember Eric? I'll remember him of course for his time in table tennis; but also as someone with tremendous drive, a real passion to contribute to society and to help others; generous to all and a devoted family man.

How sad, that at this time, so many who will remember him fondly will not be able to pay their respects.

Neil Brierley