Southsea man dedicated his life to tending sports ground

DEVOTED Doug Welsh, right, when he was awarded his British Empire Medal, alongside his son Stephen and his wife Elsie. Inset: Mr Welsh at the United Services Recreation Ground.
DEVOTED Doug Welsh, right, when he was awarded his British Empire Medal, alongside his son Stephen and his wife Elsie. Inset: Mr Welsh at the United Services Recreation Ground.
James Vince. Picture: Sarah Standing (170455-8793)

Vince relishing ‘second chance’

  • Doug Welsh, head groundsman at United Services Recreation Ground, died aged 89
  • He started working there as a teenager
  • Welsh awarded British Empire Medal for services to cricket
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A MAN who managed the United Services Recreation Ground in Portsmouth for almost his entire working life has died.

Doug Welsh, who retired in 1990 and lived in Southsea, passed away aged 89.

He was always there taking the covers off the ground and putting them back on, making sure the wickets were right and taking care of the rugby and hockey in the winter

Daughter Jackie Weston, 67, said Mr Welsh started working at the sports grounds when he left school as a teenager.

Mrs Weston said: ‘He was a lovely man.

‘He was very much his own person and he liked to make his own mind up about things.

‘He was quite a happy-go-lucky sort who loved music, mostly the kind of music that was around 50 years ago.’

Mr Welsh left Portsmouth when he was called up to serve in the Royal Marines in the Second World War.

He served in Burma and was promoted to the rank of corporal, before returning home after hostilities ended.

Mrs Weston said: ‘He was looking around for something to do and he looked in at the grounds and they nabbed him and offered him a job, and that’s what he did until he retired.’

Mrs Weston said her father lived at the grounds in a bungalow for 30 years, and took pride in maintaining the cricket, rugby and hockey grounds.

She said: ‘He was always there taking the covers off the ground and putting them back on, making sure the wickets were right and taking care of the rugby and hockey in the winter.’

Mr Welsh always preferred to prepare natural cricket pitches, without too much top dressing.

Mrs Weston said, though he never played cricket himself, Mr Welsh always devoted himself to keeping the grounds running smoothly.

She said: ‘When the rugby was going on he used to cut up oranges for all the players. When players got injured he had a sponge that he used to go wipe their faces down.’

Mr Welsh became head groundsman in 1961, and was later awarded a British Empire Medal for his services to cricket.

After retiring Mr Welsh and his wife Elsie moved to Warren Avenue in Southsea.

He was married for nearly 67 years to Elsie, who died 17 months ago.