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Inspirational Characters


by Mike Payne


Princes Risborough has certainly been blessed over the years with some inspirational characters, and watching one of our leading town historians, Sandy Macfarlane, giving a magnificent talk on the history of Parkfield recently at our Heritage Society meeting, I realised just what an influence these characters have had, and are still having, on my life. 

I came to live in Risborough in 1963 and from the moment I started taking an active interest in the recreation available in the town I have been inspired by many people I have had the pleasure to be involved with.  The first of these was probably Harold Mitchell, who was banging on my door as soon as he knew I played football!  “Come and play for Risborough Tenants,” he said, in that familiar Wolverhampton-cum-Bledlow accent of his.  How could I refuse?  My association with Tenants, and other teams, gave me the chance to play football with some wonderful players, and some amazing talent.  Chaps like the Carter boys from Monks Risborough, Geoff Mitchell, Colin-I will run forever-Steptoe, the Rutland boys, the Ridgeways, Micky Versey, Mark Fisher and a host of other inspirational players and unforgettable characters.

And the dedication to sport didn’t stop at football, as on the summer cricket fields I would come across the Carter boys again, Douglas Miller who was always Mr Monks Risborough Cricket Club, Chris Wilkins, such a sporting talent, and the one and only Nibbo Makepeace, who is still very actively involved with Risborough Rangers.  The sporting names are endless, Mick Orchard, Dicker Redding, Colin Montague, Dave ‘Colossus’ Lewis and the other Lewis boys. And another inspiring never to be forgotten cricketer and character was Tony Maisey, wicket-keeper extraordinaire!  There have been so many others too.

Since as far back as I can remember I have also been involved in the organising of sports teams and other group activities and some of those unsung people who came on to our committees have also been a huge inspiration to me over the years.  They all deserve medals really.  Recently I have been doing some talks for local W.I. groups and other groups and I am now inspired by the work that the people that run these organisations do for the town, and have done for many, many years.  What they do is not always fully appreciated, but it is by me, that is for sure.

And talking of unsung heroes, give a thought or two to the ladies involved in the organisation of all these activities.  I’m thinking of people like Mrs Jessie Carter, who was an inspiration to many a young footballer and cricketer in the town with her endless dedication.  And I have been very lucky to have had a wife who was prepared to wash football kit, make cricket teas, mow football pitches, sweep out dressing rooms, help score at quiz nights, cook, clean and generally be there to support me and help the clubs I’ve been involved with, survive.  There are not many like her but I take my hat off to all of them.

And I finish by going back to where I started.  My fascination with the heritage of the town has grown so much over recent years, and it is mainly down to Sandy Macfarlane, as his dedication to preserving the history and development of Princes Risborough is breathtaking.  When you spend some time in his company and listen to the knowledge he has acquired, and the enthusiastic way he puts it across, it is impossible not to be inspired.

Like I said, Risborough has been blessed.

Email Mike at mpayne233@btopenworld.com or ring 01844 347511 if you have any information or photos you would like to share, or if you would like to find out more about the Heritage Society.