Members and supporters of Olicanian Cricket Club are mourning the death of the club’s chairman, David House. Mr House, who had been ill for some time, died at Wheatfields Hospice, Leeds, on Tuesday, December 14. He was aged 77.
Mr House was chairman of the Ilkley-based club for almost 25 years. His greatest wish, before he died, was to see the completion of the club’s new pavilion which is currently under construction and which will replace the building destroyed in an arson attack almost two years ago. The pavilion, in Denton Road, is due to be finished in the next few months.
Mick Christopher, the club’s president, said: "We’re all absolutely gutted that David has left us. He’s been ill for some time and we knew this day would come, but it’s still heartbreaking.
“I’ve personally known David for more than 50 years. He was Olicanian Cricket Club through and through and it is very upsetting to think that he won’t see the new pavilion finished. The arson attack in August 2019 was a huge blow to the club and despite his deteriorating health, he has been heavily involved in overseeing the creation of the new building. He dearly wanted to live long enough to see it finished."
Mr House was passionate about cricket all his adult life, both as a player and, later, as an administrator. As well as being chairman at Olicanians, he was also a senior vice president of the Airedale and Wharfedale Senior League and sat on the league’s management committee for a decade.
Several weeks before his death, Mr House was honoured by the Yorkshire Cricket Board with a Special Award, recognising his contribution to grass roots cricket. The award was presented to him in the shell of the new pavilion in front of club members.
“David loved the game most of his life and has contributed hugely to the development of our club and to the league in general. Our aim now, is to finish a pavilion of which he would have been proud and for the club to bounce back from an awful period in its history,” said Mr Christopher.
Club secretary Brent Armitage said: “David was instrumental in so many initiatives it is impossible to mention all of these, but they include moving into the Aire Wharfe League, the construction of a new pavilion in 2000, organising dinners and charity events, the annual tour, fund-raising, improvements to the ground and square, the list really is endless. His energy, commitment and sheer determination to succeed in everything he did really had to be seen to be believed.”
Mr House was born in Horsforth in 1944 and he attended Calverley Primary School before becoming a boarder at Royal Russell School in Surrey and, then Ballard School in Hampshire. On leaving school at the age of 16, he initially worked at the wholesalers firm Crowe and Company in Wellington Street, Leeds, before opting for a change of career.
He signed up for the police cadets in 1961 and, in 1963, joined the West Riding Police force. After completing his initial training at Pannal Ash in Harrogate, he spent three years as a probationary constable at Royston near Barnsley before moving to Farsley, Leeds, as a full PC. Later, he was part of West Yorkshire’s first ever No District Task Force.
Mr House was promoted to detective at Keighley police in 1971 and joined Special Branch in 1975.
In the early 1980’s he was promoted to Detective Sergeant and put in charge of the Special Branch team at Leeds/Bradford Airport and, in the late 1980’s worked in the Special Branch, based in Bradford.
During his career, he was one of a team of West Yorkshire Police Protection Officers who ensured the safety of members of the Royal Family and politicians visiting the county.
One of his most memorable assignments was as part of the protection team for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977.
Later, he took pride in having being involved in undermining a terrorist organisation in the Halifax area.
His love of cricket developed during his time at Royal Russell School and Ballards where he played for the first and second elevens and was coached by the former England captain Colin Cowdrey, later Lord Cowdrey.
A batsman and occasional bowler, Mr House played for the North East Gas Board team and then for Ingrow in the Bradford Central League.
He joined Olicanian Cricket Club as a player in 1990 and soon became involved in the club’s administration, becoming chairman in the mid 1990’s.
Under his chairmanship, the club moved from the Leeds League to the Airedale and Wharfedale Senior League, built a new pavilion, started a thriving junior section, extended the square and expanded to field three senior teams.
He was twice married and divorced, first to Jeanette in the 1970’s, and later to Joan. He leaves two children, Matthew and Louisa from his first marriage, together with grandson Robert.
Mr House also had a love of football and, in his younger days, played for several police teams. He was a Bradford City season ticket holder.
The date and venue for the funeral has yet to be announced.