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News > OP updates > Obituaries > Paul Danby OP 1947 - 1956

Paul Danby OP 1947 - 1956

27 Oct 2021
Written by Paul Hassall
Paul Danby
Paul Danby


25th September 1939 - 7th June 2019

OP 1947 - 1956

Bombed out of Hayling Island during the war, Paul Danby went to PGS where he learned to play, and love cricket and rugger.  He batted in the first eleven and continued playing cricket to a good club level after leaving school.  He was elected to the MCC in 1966, and later in life combined real tennis with cricket, often cycling to Lords, sports kit on his back to reserve the best seats and picnic spot. 

A gifted sportsman, he was keen sailor, leaving school to build boats, and during National service in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal regiment, enjoyed success at boxing. 

The family started skiing in 1957 and regularly visited Andermatt in Switzerland - he took up ski touring and in the early sixties he completed the classic tour 'Haute Route' from Chamonix to Zermatt on skis.  He went on to become President of the Eagle Ski Club.

Following National Service, he attended the Central School of Art and Design and, later, joined the family furnishing business - interior design became his chosen profession and he continued working with clients until shortly before his death.  His old-fashioned urbanity and charm together with good taste ensured a constant wide circle of clients. 

In 1966, Paul played a key role in rescuing the Real Tennis court on Hayling Island and, with family support, helped found The Seacourt Tennis Club.  His flair for games laid a fine foundation for racket sports which came naturally to him.  Badminton in the early years and squash.  He had received lessons in real tennis in the 50’s from the old pro at the private court and after the founding of Seacourt, for some years, became the club's leading tennis player.  He became good enough to win a round in the amateur in the 1970’s and continued to hold his own in his age group until very recently, playing in the over age tournaments in the UK, USA, France and Australia.  

He moved to London in the early 1990’s and continued playing regularly at Queens Club and Lords.  He remained a true amateur and was elected ‘Jester of the Year’ by The Jesters Club in 2018 which brought him special pleasure.

A notable result one year was to enter a PGS team in the Annual Public Schools old boys competition - 'The Henry Leaf Cup’.  Teams of three, Singles, Knock out format.  With his brother Nick OP and Graham Wingate OP they were defeated in the final by a Winchester team comprising an ex world champion and the current amateur champion.  Paul also regularly entered the annual ‘Fathers and Sons’ tournament with his son Charlie.

Following a programme of developing new sporting facilities, many instigated by Paul, The Seacourt Club gained a mention in the 'Guinness Book of Records’ for the provision of five racket sports facilities at a single venue - Real Tennis, Rackets, Squash, Badminton and Lawn Tennis.

His latter move to London allowed him to engage with ‘London Hedonism’ and he embraced Club Life, Theatre, Music and Opera as well as the Museums and Art galleries.  He was to be often seen in the Auction Rooms using his good eye for a bargain - he had a keen interest in Studio Ceramics and fine wine.

Paul died peacefully at home, aged 79, having suffered from cancer for some time and is survived by his wife Sarah, two stepdaughters, two daughters, a son and four grandchildren.  St Mary's Hayling hosted his service of remembrance attended by countless friends and family, with rousing hymns and entertaining eulogy from Clare his daughter.

His last words were - "Match point down I’ve been bloody lucky - Toodle-oo”.

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