Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, Val Andrews, as friend and Chairman of South Region, was the only member of the Association able to attend Mark's funeral. Here she gives an abridged version of the eulogy.
It was with great sadness that Keith and I attended the funeral of Mark Allen on 6th November at Chichester Crematorium. Mark passed away peacefully, with his loving wife Maggie by his side, on 21st October following a short illness, becoming unwell in late summer.
Mark was a colleague and a friend for 36 years and he made a big contribution to our Association over those years as umpire, mentor, assessor and lately as Regional Secretary and Chairman of the Association.
Mark led a varied and interesting life; he was essentially a private man and I’m not sure many of us really knew much about him. The eulogy read out at the service portrayed this and I have tried to condense this as much as possible without leaving out any important details.
“Mark was born in Havant, Hampshire in March 1952 and had two younger brothers, Stuart and David (sadly deceased). His father was in the Navy and it was during his father’s posting to Singapore that Mark found badminton. It became a lifelong passion for him.
When his father’s posting ended the family returned to Havant where Mark finished his schooling, achieving 10 'O' levels and 4 'A' Levels. He then went on to University.
At the age of 20 he met the love of his life, Maggie and six months later they were married. After a short spell in London they returned to the south coast and bought the house in Bognor Regis where Mark lived for the rest of his life, and Maggie still lives.
He had a few jobs but found his vocation as Security and Compliance Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa with international publishers John Whiley & Sons. His work took him to Germany and several times to New York where Maggie would accompany him and they often extended their stay to enjoy the city.
Mark and Maggie chose not to have children but he adored his nieces and nephews, even flying to Sydney to attend a niece’s wedding. Travel was a great love of Mark’s life and a trip to Hong Kong and a Mediterranean cruise were much enjoyed. They also visited many other countries and Mark even accompanied Maggie on a ‘girls’ skiing holiday, apparently being very popular when the girls found the local ‘shots’ not to their liking and Mark happily obliged!
Badminton was his passion, he even taught Maggie how to play and they formed a mixed doubles partnership, until Maggie beat him a couple of times in local competition! Such was his passion that he set up Arun Badminton Club at the local leisure centre and they made many close friendships which endure today. His quiet natural authority drew him to umpiring and this became his greatest passion for the sport. He rose through the grades to become an International umpire and officiated at the Commonwealth Games and a final of the All England in Birmingham where he was service judge. Mark and Maggie joined the local Wine Circle and he quickly became quite an expert at spotting a good red wine from the supermarket shelves and he would eagerly stock up. Those of us who have shared Mark’s company at ‘technical meetings’ at ICC weekends were lucky to enjoy a very fine red wine.
Mark had other hobbies, kite flying and walking. He was always fit and used to cycle to work, much to Maggie’s consternation, on his recumbent bicycle (where you are almost lying flat !). He took an interest in Bonsai trees and joined the local Bonsai Association and he loved music. Trips to the Royal Albert Hall to see artistes from all genres from Police to full orchestral works and they enjoyed going to outdoor concerts, with a delicious picnic, and he loved the spectacular firework displays which often followed.
Another interest was science fiction and he would enjoy watching different tv shows and films. He was also an animal lover and apart from this and his love of badminton he had a deep affection for his family and friends but the love of his life was Maggie. When Mark received the devastating diagnosis that he had a short time to live, Maggie never left his side and ensured that Mark got his wish, to end his life in the care of St Wilfred’s Hospice, a charity he had supported for many years. At 3am on 21st October Mark slipped peacefully away.”
Mark was a good umpire and the best thing anyone can say of any umpire is that ‘you can give them any match, however difficult, put it out on court 7, and forget about it’. This epitomises Mark. I remember on one occasion at the All England a linejudge approached me and said ‘I have just come off court ... I don’t know his name but hasn’t he got a lovely voice’. My immediate reaction - ‘Oh that will be Mark Allen’.
Since becoming Regional Secretary Mark was a great support to me in my position as South Region Chairman and I will miss him very much as a colleague and a friend. Thank you for your contribution to badminton, we will carry on your good work.
RIP good friend.