Time to help one of our own

Alan Hughes, a distinguished football writer for many outlets during a long career who served as the Secretary of what was then the Sports Writers’ Association, is now resident at the nursing home in Dorking run by the Journalists’ Charity, but is missing his old friends and contacts. Can you help – perhaps by writing to Alan or even paying him a visit?

John Rodgers, himself a former committee member, informs us that Alan now has to wear a hearing aid and can only walk with the aid of a Zimmer frame which he still manages to take outside, sit and have a smoke and criticise the sports pages…
Until his wife died earlier this year, Alan had been living in Cheltenham.

In July, he moved into the Dorking home, run by the organisation better known as the Newspaper Press Fund, after the completion of the new facility, and he was there for its official opening by the Countess of Wessex last month.

Also settling into the care home is Gwen Thompson, the 94-year-old widow of former Daily Mirror sportswriter John Thompson – she still talks about the racehorse they owned together.

Alan would love to see old friends. Ian Cole and Trevor Bond worked with Alan on the SWA committee in the late 1980s and early 1990s (Hughes looked after our Association’s affairs after the death of Doug Gardner and before Mary Fitzhenry took over as Secretary). Cole and Bond have agreed to try to put together a visiting party – the likes of David Hunn and anyone who knew Alan well enough may wish to join them on a date to be arranged. Contact details for Bond and Cole for more information may be found by clicking here.

John Rodgers says: “I am sure that Alan, Zimmer frame and all, would love to be invited to one of the SJA’s events. He needs to get back in touch with old friends and colleagues – and perhaps a donation to the charity would help.”

Pickering House – named after former Daily Express editor and News International executive Ted Pickering – cost £4 million to build. Set in three acres, the home has 20 en-suite rooms for residents, a library, gym, hairdressers, games room, chapel and a well-stocked bar (provided courtesy of Sir Ray Tindle).

The building is light and airy – without any of the atmosphere of an institution. Alan and Gwen are two of seven residents who have moved in. Up the road at Harmsworth House there is sheltered housing for up to another 10 people. Pickering House, which provides nursing care rather than being a retirement home, charges fees for those who can afford it, while the Journalists’ Charity tops up local authority funding for those who can’t.

The home’s address is: Pickering House, Ridgeway Road, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 3AY. Telephone: 01306 888077, extension 0 for inquries.

You can also post messages of goodwill to Alan and Gwen in the Comment box below, and we will ensure that they are all passed on to them.

Pay your SJA subscriptions the easy way – click here for details and a bank mandate form