Phyllis Court Club, Marlow Road, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 2HT

Link to Phyllis Court Club main web site


Dr Helen Walker (1953-2017)

Helen was an Association Croquet player who although for many years had a handicap of 16 knew how to use her bisques. Consequently we had many challenging games.
But strangely after a year in which she won most of her games and her handicap was reduced to 14 she then never won anything. So back to 16.
We used to tease her about being a long-established player with such a high handicap. Her response was that she needed to play and practise more but was unable to do so on account of her work.

She joined Phyllis Court Club in 1993 and had previously taken up the game with friends around 1990 at the Harwell Club where she later served as Secretary. Helen was a stalwart member of that club but also found time to play at Phyllis Court.

Helen was an astronomer and space scientist of international repute and an advocate for Women in Astronomy.
In recent years she managed projects connected with the Mars Express satellite and with searching for extra-solar planets working at the National Space Academy at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.
On one occasion she had to scratch from a croquet tournament to ensure the well-being of her Martian satellite!
Helen also occupied high office in the Royal Astronomical Society.

There was another important side to her personality. She had a strong Christian faith - which sustained her through her illness in the last few months of her life.
She was dedicated to her local church (All Saints, Didcot) where she took on several roles. She was a keen bell-ringer, a server, someone one who would lead the prayers at the Sunday service, read the Bible, host and join house groups. Helen in her illness had no concerns as to what  lay ahead of her.

Sadly she died at the young age of 64. Her funeral and requiem mass was well-supported by her friends and colleagues from the worlds of church, astronomy and croquet.

Brian G Bucknall
Margaret Cotterell
11 October 2017