JEAN WIGHTMAN 23 March 1928 to 23 October 2015

I am sad to report the death of Jean Wightman following a long battle with cancer.

Jean was a highly talented and tenacious bridge player. She first started playing competitively in the late 60’s and was one of the founders of Oadby BC at a time when youngsters, such as Paul Bowyer, Colin Gore and David Green were pupils at the connected Beauchamp College. In 1975 she joined the LCBA committee as Bulletin Secretary and remained on the committee for the next ten years.

She became a regular player at the County Bridge and won all their competitions on many occasions. She also donated and gave her name to the Wightman Cup, a trophy presented to up and coming players at the County club. She played and captained the County “A” team for many years.

She won her first LCBA trophy, the Olga Cup, playing with Lucy Pathan in 1978 and had other successes in the Gimson Trophy (twice), Joyce Cup and Otto & Edith Trophy. She played regularly for the 1st team in the Midlands County League and represented the county in the Tollemache Trophy.

She played in countless congresses throughout the UK and was a regular attendee at Brighton, Torquay, Scarborough, Llangollen and Porthcawl and the annual Swiss Teams Congress at Leeds. She also enjoyed playing in the Jersey and Isle of Man congresses.

She derived most pleasure at the bridge table when playing in long matches where her considerable table presence gave her a distinct advantage. She was often found still competing in the later rounds of the Gold Cup and the Crockfords Cup.

As well as Lucy, she struck up regular successful partnerships with many other talented players including Don Gilbertson, David Howie, David Fletcher and Laurence Lock. I also had the pleasure of playing with her for many years and was always struck with her attention to detail when analysing either the bidding system or defensive techniques. There was never any excuse for forgetting part of the system and she would let you know that!

In 2001 she reached the rank of Grandmaster, the first woman in Leicestershire to achieve this significant honour. In later years, though she played less in congresses, she still attended regular club nights at the County Club and Blaby Bridge Club without the slightest diminution in her competitive attitude.

Outside of bridge, she had many jobs in her life but I remember most vividly her time working for her brother, Clive, in his Nottingham lace company. She would travel incessantly around the country with her samples, conjuring up business. She often visited the main suppliers in Europe and as a result was fluent in Italian, German and Spanish. I also recall having to empty her large estate car packed with samples before we could load up our own cases ready to travel to a congress!

Her character away from bridge was completely opposite to her perceived resolute, imposing, some might say bullying, presence at the table. She was a generous, hospitable, thoughtful person who often gave words of advice to others (when asked) without ever making any judgments, a rare gift these days. Her annual Christmas parties were legendary and I remember thinking I had become someone pretty important in Leicestershire bridge, the first time I was invited.

It was a pleasure to share a small part of her life. She will be missed by me and many others, both at and away from the bridge table.

Jean leaves behind her son, Gary, daughter, Lisa and two grandchildren.

Simon Stokes