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30THESWORDJANUARY2015ObituariesFRANKMILLS943-4Frankfrsttookupencingintheearly96satBlackriarsFencingClub.KristinPayneremembersOnedaythisenergeticandveryftyoungmanturnedupandsaidhewantedtolearntoence.HisnamewasFrankandhewasasuccessulcyclistclearlyadedicatedsportsman.Idontrememberwhyheturnedtoencingorhowhecametojoinourclubbuthisdeterminationandenthusiasmwasaninspiration.HelearnedveryastandwithinsixmonthsofrstpickingupaoilhehadbecomeSurreychampion.ItwaswhileonaencingcoursebeingruninBathin96thatFrankmethiswie-to-beBettyalsoacompetitiveenceratthattime.TheyweremarriedinStPetersChurchMaidenheadin969withmembersotheencingcommunityormingaguardohonouratertheceremony.TheollowingyearFrankwonthesouth-eastsectionmensoilchampionship.Butworkandchildrencausedhimtogiveupencingin97.HespentmostohisworkinglieinmarketingandpublicrelationsbecomingheadoundraisingortheLicensedVictuallersNationalHomesandraisingmanyhundredsothousandsopoundsorcharity.WhenhissonNikstartedencingin988usingaoilinheritedromBettyFrankwasluredbackintothesportandjoinedtheMiltonKeynesFencingClub.In99hejoinedtheVetswassoononthecommitteeandwaselectedchairmanoBritishVeteransFencingBVFin8.FrankwasalsoakeenreemasonservingasLodgeMasterin3.HewasoneotheorganisersothefrstRockRideacyclerideromGibraltartoBuckinghamshireinaidocharityandhadstartedworkingorRockRidebeoreillhealthpreventedhimrombecomingullyinvolved.OrganisedcharityworkwasnottheonlyexpressionoFranksgoodnature.ManyaweekendhecouldbeoundhelpingBettydoingabitoDIYhereholdingaBBQthereandrunningvariousGirlGuideprojectsinwhichsheisstillheavilyinvolved.Frankwaswellknowntoveteranencersorhischarmsenseohumourquickwitandvelvet-tonedspeakingvoice.Hisater-dinnerspeecheswhenhemanagedtoincorporateunsuspectingmembersintohisjokeswereamousanditsoonbecameabadgeohonourtobeincludedinoneohisstories.JohnMasonrecallsthismomentFredSheppardalwayseaturedinoneohisstorieswhiletherestouswereonedgewonderingwhetherweweregoingtobethenextvictim.MyturncameoneyearandtheonlythingIrememberapartromitbeingveryunnywasthatthestoryinvolvedanencounterbetweenmeintoxicatedandaridgelateatnight.FrankproposedtotheVetscommitteethatwehostthenextEuropeanTeamChampionshipsandwearenowcommittedtoholdingtheeventin6.Hopeullywecanmakeitashowhewouldhavebeenproudo.ButhowcanwereplacehimasMasteroCeremoniesFranksdedicationtoBVFwaswellknown.HeledseveralsquadstomatchesandchampionshipsinEuropeorganisedtheage-groupqualifersorseveralyearsandwasinstrumentalinmakingtheVeteransWintonCupthepopulareventithasbecome.ManyvetshaveondmemoriesotheirencounterswithFrank.BrianMilloremembersTheeveningbeoreIwasduetoleavehometotakepartinmyfrstinternationalcompetitiontheEuropeanchampionshipsinHenin-BeaumontIrealisedthatmy3Nkitwouldnotmeettherequirements.SoItelephonedFrankourChedeMissionandevenhisreprimandwasmerelyOhBrian.Didyounotreadtherulesexpressedinhisusualurbanemanner.HequicklysuggestedthatsincehewouldnotbecompetingbecausethereweresomanyBritishencerstolookaterandsincewewerebothletiesheshouldstilltakehisownkitwithhimtopassacrosstomewhenwearrived.AsimplesolutiontoaproblemnotoFranksmakingandwhichhecouldverywellhavedonewithout.Hewassogoodathandlingmuchmoredicultsituationswithcalmnessandskillthathecouldbecomealmostinvisibleatourcompetitions.IamgladtohaveknownhimevenionlybrieyandIdoregretthathisquietlyexpressedencouragementshissensibleadviceandhisunobtrusivesenseohumourwillnotbeheardagain.AthisfrstVetsoutingAnthonySilversaysFrankcameuptohimashewaspackinguptocheckaewdetails.HewaslookingsodapperandgenialandholdingthemicrophoneinthewaythatproessionalcompresdothatorsomebizarrereasontheimageoabeautytalentcontestashedintomymindsoIstartedtowitteronabouthowpleasedandproudIwasandthatIwantedtoworkwithchildrennotsomethingyoucansaytodayandorWorldPeace.Franktookallothisinhisstridenotevenraisingasardoniceyebrowandmadeasinglenoteonhispad.WhenthetimecameorhimtoannouncethewinninglineupherepeatedmyinanecommentswithastraightaceandthendrilyremarkedthatIhadobviouslygottotallyconusedoverwhichcompetitionIhadentered.FrancesWoodwardrecallsTherewasonecompetitionIwenttoandwhileoutsideorabreakIoundFrankintweedjacketoverencingjacketbreechesandsmokingacigarette.WehuggedandIsaidOhFrankyousmellnice.TheresponsewasGivenchyorMen...Theonlygentlemanlythingaboutme.Iwillmisshimalot.RichardBonehillremembersFrankwithasmile.Whatmaysurprisemanyisthathehadawonderulwildside.Herodeapowerulmotorbikehadawickedsenseohumourenjoyedacigaretteandadrinkandwasgreatun.Lieshouldnotbeajourneytothegravewiththeintentionoarrivingsaelyinanattractiveandwell-preservedbodybutrathertoskidinbroadsideinacloudosmokechampagneinonehandstrawberriesintheotherbodythoroughlyuseduptotallywornoutandscreamingWOOHOOWHATARIDEWelldoneFrank.AlthoughFrankfrstbecameillin3heseemedtomakeagoodrecoverybutunortunatelythisprovedtobeashortperiodoremission.SomebrightnessenteredFrankandBettysliveswhentheirdaughterpresentedthemwithabelovedgrandsonHenry.SadlyintheearlyhoursothNovemberFranklosthislastboutanddiedpeaceullyathomewithhisamily.Hispersonalitytouchedmanypeopleslivesandweareallthebetterorit.HeleavesbehindhislovingwieBettysonNicholasandpartnerRachelwithtwochildrenhisdaughterAndreasonin-lawByronandgrandsonHenry.DaveSweeneyWithpersonalreminiscencesromtheObituariessectionotheBVFwebsitehttpwww.veterans-encing.co.uk