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Tennis friends create garden to remember Gill Bell

A memorial garden dedicated to former Driffield Recreation Club tennis section chairman Gill Bell has been unveiled at the courts.

Gill, who was a valued and well-respected member of the tennis club at the Kings Mill Road site, sadly passed away in December 2020, aged 76.

An active sportswoman, Gill’s greatest passion was tennis, which she started playing during her school days and continued to play throughout her life.

Gill was such a huge part of Driffield Rec Tennis, a champion of grass roots tennis and we miss her very much

anita oxtoby

In 1966, Gill joined the tennis section of the Town Cricket & Recreation Club and her association lasted over 50 years.

She was an excellent player and reached many finals in the ladies and mixed doubles tournaments and was part of the many victorious teams in the local Driffield and District League.

Gill held positions of secretary, chairman and team captain during her 54 years in the tennis section, as well as gaining her coaching qualification and coaching juniors at the club.

On Saturday 23rd April, members of the tennis club held an informal ceremony to place the commemorative plaque in the finished garden, attended by Gill’s husband Tom and several members, before the official opening of the grass courts for the 2022 season.

Anita Oxtoby, tennis section secretary said: “We were all very shocked and saddened when Gill died suddenly in December 2020.

“Gill was a stalwart of the club, having been a member for 54 years as well holding various official positions including junior coach, chairperson, secretary and captain.

“Gill was such a huge part of Driffield Rec Tennis, a champion of grass roots tennis and we miss her very much.”

The committee wanted to mark Gill’s loyal and dedicated commitment to the section and came up with the idea of a garden; committee members Anita and Lynne volunteered to take on the project.

The area for the garden was cut out last autumn in preparation for planting up with spring bulbs and perennials.

“After we’d decided on the idea of a garden, I contacted Sally who was Gill’s ladies’ doubles partner for many years and also a very good friend of Gill and asked if she would like to help us with the garden. Sally didn’t hesitate in saying she would love to, despite no longer living in the area. She also was able to advise us about suitable plants for the site, which was useful.

“Although the spring bulbs had mostly finished flowering and the perennials are yet to show colour, we are happy with the effect and can imagine how it will look in the future.

“We had over 20 people turn up for our open day, despite it being an extremely windy afternoon, the courts looked amazing and we gained three new members on the day.

“Although the open day has taken place, the season is just beginning and if anyone is interested in playing socially or competitively, please contact anita_oxtoby8@hotmail.com or visit the courts on a Saturday afternoon. We also have several group coaching sessions for juniors and adults for all abilities, together with one-to-one sessions.”

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