Kate Billson

It is sad to note that Kate Billson died peacefully on Monday 27 January at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester following a short illness.

Kate became extremely well known in the men’s and boys’ game in the 1980s and she spent many years helping the development and progress of young players, not in a coaching capacity, but wholly as an administrator. She only played the game at school and only once was selected to represent her school.

Kate got involved with the boys’ game in the 1980s with husband Tony, initially through supporting her son Andrew who went on to play for England U21s and captained Teddington to the national league title in 1995. She set up and developed the Northampton County Schoolboys’ Association before moving on to work in the development and match planning of the Midland Schoolboys. She then went on to work with the England Schoolboys national squads acting as Chef de Mission on their home and overseas tours.

Kate with Tony planned and organized many of the key England Schoolboy national and international events bringing a new level of organization and professionalism. She was successful in securing much needed financial sponsorship for the boys’ game from the likes of NatWest Bank and Nationwide Building Society, thus ensuring that the profile of schoolboy hockey was enhanced.

After the amalgamation of England Schoolboys with the men’s Hockey Association (HA), Kate continued her involvement as Chair of the Schoolboys’ committee and was majorly involved with and sat on various HA committees.

She was involved in the organizing of several of the international hockey events at the National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes, including the women’s Qualifying Tournament prior to the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.

Kate’s final key involvements with hockey were acting as Secretary to the Centenary Club and finally the Hockey Youth Trust. She engineered funding for the Trust to be able to help clubs and schools obtain financial support for the development of the boys’ and girls’ junior game at grassroots level.

Kate was also a great friend to The Hockey Museum, being one of its earliest supporters. When the first hockey museum was started at the Milton Keynes Stadium back in the ‘90s Kate arranged for the Centenary Club to purchase some splendid display cabinets, which are still in use in The Hockey Museum today. Kate also deposited the England Schoolboys records with the museum, now available to all as an archive.

Kate’s overall passion lay with helping and seeing young people have the chance to participate and develop through the opportunities afforded by the sport of hockey.

It is doubtful that any woman has ever done more for men’s hockey in England; indeed there have been few men that have accomplished as much as Kate did.

Our thoughts are with husband Tony, and Kate’s family.

Kate’s funeral will take place at 1100 am on 19th February at St Aidan's Catholic Church. Kingsthorpe, Northampton NN2 6QJ 

(With grateful thanks to Mike Smith and The Hockey Museum)