EFA Dinner and Awards: A Night to Remember

The 2012 EFA Dinner took place in London on Saturday night, with a new venue and a new format, both of which proved to be big hits. The biggest attendance at this event for a long time meant a large number of people were able to congratulate the winners of the first ever EFA End of Season awards, for which Fives players the length and breadth of the country have been voting in recent weeks.

EFA President Richard Barber announced the results and the prizes were awarded to the winners by EFA Chairman and the mastermind of the evening, Peter Worth.

Team of the Year:

1. Berkhamsted

2. Oxford University Ladies

3. Shrewsbury School

Young Player of the Year:

1. Jack Hudson-Williams

2. Isaac Wagland

=3. Robert Wilson

=3. Eve Smith-Bingham

Coach of the Year

1. Peter Boughton

2. Mark Yates

=3. Howard Wiseman

=3. George Thomason

Outstanding Contribution to Fives:

1. Andy Barnard

2. Paul Bowden

3. Jennifer Green

Player of the Year:

1. Seb Cooley

2. Tom Dunbar

3. Karen Hird

The final presentation of the evening was the inaugural EFA Lifetime Achievement Award, which was given to Derek Whitehead with the following tribute from Richard Barber:

"This goes to someone who has been the very backbone of the game for more decades than any of us can remember – and the thing about a backbone is that you don’t see it but without it things would collapse around it!

Our nominee has been the founder of a distinguished school Fives club; he has overseen the entire supply of Fives balls to the game for a generation; he has run matches for the EFA against lesser Fives-playing schools in his efforts to lift them up; his financial and legal experience have been put in innumerable ways at the service of the EFA as one of our longest-serving Vice Presidents; and as a Trustee and Secretary of the Charitable Trust he amazingly reconstituted its affairs virtually single-handed when all its records were stolen on the very day of the funeral of its Treasurer, our dear friend John Rimer.

Our nominee also holds the world record for being the oldest competitor to have played regularly in the Veterans Competition, in which in the last game he played he and his partner won 15-0; and he will be playing Fives this autumn as keenly as ever at the age of 80. He is a tremendous encourager of the young; he is a tiger for fair play; and he is an ardent promoter of smart turn out on court.

In preparing this award I consulted one or two people, under oaths of secrecy, for some reflections about him and among their comments were:

“he stands for high standards and good manners and is a true gentleman of the game”,

“he is the kindest and most considerate person you could ever meet”,

“he is a fount of all knowledge about the game”,

“he encapsulates the spirit of fair play and how Fives should always be played”.

In short he is the unsung hero of our game to which he is absolutely devoted, to which he has given so much and in which he is a friend to all – and heroism in this context is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost; it is the urge to serve others at whatever cost.

He is of course – Derek Whitehead!"

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