Longstanding BCA member, Harry Beevers, passed away on the 24th of January, aged 86.
Harry lived in Castleford, West Yorkshire, and had been
suffering with serious health problems for a couple of years.
Despite having been diagnosed with
retinitis pigmentosa at a young age,
Harry attended Castleford Grammar School and completed his National
Service before starting work as a history teacher in a secondary
modern school. He organised
the school cross country running team and was interested in weightlifting. Harry married Muriel and they had a son,
Michael. However, Harry’s
sight deteriorated in the 1950s, possibly as a result of an anti-malarial
drug that he had been given while serving in East Africa. On being registered blind, Harry decided
to retrain as a Braille shorthand typist after which he found
employment with the local authority.
Before long, tragedy struck the family.
Muriel died when Michael was just ten years old.
In time, Harry was introduced to Joan by a mutual acquaintance
at church. Joan and Harry married and went on to have
a son, Mark.
In 1977, Harry joined a BCA squad
and travelled to Austria for a chess tournament. Harry spoke no German so when he wished
to talk to a local Roman Catholic priest who knew no English, the two
conversed in Latin! Harry continued
his interest in chess by playing postal games against other BCA
members. He used to put his guide
dog on “autopilot” when walking to the office so that he could work out his
Harry was passionate about quizzes!
He enjoyed setting the questions and acting as quizmaster
as well as taking part. His quiz team competed at national level,
with Harry specialising in sport, especially Yorkshire cricket! He was also active in a general knowledge
quiz league in his local area and appeared on several TV quiz
shows, including Fifteen to One.
Naturally, the internet is a powerful
tool when it comes to researching quiz questions so Harry was
keen to get to grips with using a computer.
In 2001, with this aim in mind, he requested assistance
from St. Dunstan’s, the charity now known as Blind Veterans UK. They quickly spotted Harry’s talents and
asked him to join their team of speakers who travelled to various
locations giving talks on sight loss in order to raise awareness. Harry’s patch was mainly Yorkshire, Lincolnshire
and Lancashire, though on one occasion he went to Northern Ireland
to address a group of eye specialists at the Royal Belfast Hospital.
Harry also became very active in raising
funds for Blind Veterans UK. At
the age of 76, he teamed up with a school friend to cycle a tandem
from London to Brighton. The
ride took place on a day when temperatures were in the nineties
and the tarmac was melting. Spectators
along the route were throwing water at the cyclists to cool them
down! Undeterred, Harry went on to do the London
to Brighton charity cycle ride on three further occasions. Also, Harry remembered seeing parachutes
as a boy and had been fascinated by them ever since. He had always wanted to have a go himself
and when he was 78, he fulfilled this ambition by completing a
charity tandem jump with the Red Devils!
In recognition of Harry’s huge contribution
to Blind Veterans UK, he was chosen to be one of their representatives
at a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in June 2015 to mark the
charity’s centenary. Harry
was ill that summer, but his determination to go to the palace
was such that a small inconvenience like being in hospital was
not going to stand in his way.
Sure enough, with just a week to spare, Harry was discharged
and shortly afterwards he proudly travelled to London with Joan
to attend the special occasion.
Sincere condolences to Joan, Michael
and Mark on their loss. Grateful
thanks to Joan for kindly sparing the time to talk to me about
Harry and supplying me with the information needed to write this