Last year we received a legacy from the estate of lifelong cricket supporter and volunteer Ken James. His friends and executors Bob Baxter and Bill Boyes explain the background.

Kenneth George James, late of 5 Cecil Rd, Willesden in northwest London, was born on 17 May 1936 and died on 6 April 2022. He was an only child and lived with his parents in Willesden until his father died in 1986 and his mother in 1988.

Ken would have been the first to admit that he was not the most talented of sportsmen. He rightly often captained teams that he had organised but only occasionally treated himself to a bowl. When he did, the 19th century “lob” bowlers would immediately have recognised a practitioner of their trade and most of his victims were caught on a deep boundary. However, his commitment to organising sport, especially club cricket and football, was far greater than that of anybody else that we knew.

Until he became incapacitated, he was a central figure in the administration of South Hampstead Cricket Club and Old Uffingtonians Football Club (the Old Boys club for Willesden High School), both based at the cricket ground in Milverton Road, Brondesbury. He must have become involved with those clubs in the 1950s, long before we became members in the mid-1970s, and served both clubs in many different, unremunerated roles.

He specialised, in the days before email and WhatsApp, in the weekly task of phone calls to round up a couple more footballers on Saturday or Sunday morning on a wet or frosty day in the middle of winter for a game at Gunnersbury Park (made even less tempting by the post-match horror of the shower block) or persuading cricketers to play when there was a more attractive option of watching the cup final or meeting the girlfriend’s parents. He was a constant presence in front of and behind the bar in the pavilion and served on every available committee of both clubs. He was the committed member without which no amateur sports club, indeed organisation, can survive but who never acquires the fame which more talented players achieve.

Ken rarely needed legal advice as he lived in the same house for all his life but on and off for many years he told Bill that he needed help with making a will. Sadly, he became mentally incapacitated before he could decide to whom he wanted to leave his estate. He was moved into a nursing home by Brent Council and in November 2019 Bob was appointed as his Deputy by the Court of Protection. Thereafter the property at 5 Cecil Rd was sold and the proceeds invested. An application to make a statutory will was made by Bob to the Court and, pursuant to an order, the will was made on 17 January 2022. The residue of the estate has been divided between two cricket charities, namely the Primary Club and Chance to Shine. Each has received approximately £180,000.

If the will had not been made before his death, his estate would have been shared between the many descendants of his paternal and maternal grandparents, none of whom he had ever met. Fortunately, this outcome was avoided and we hope that Ken would have been happy with the outcome. He is a man who deserves to be remembered for his untiring efforts.

Through his teams a few sportsmen progressed to achieve national fame and countless others enjoyed games and occasions which would never have taken place without his efforts.

For more information on how to leave a legacy visit the Primary Club’s website.