A tribute to John Kember-Smith
The following tribute was presented at John's Funeral by Graham Potts, Chair of the Regional Shooting Committee.
|John Kember-Smith receiving his Honorary Life Membership of GNAS for services to National Judging.|
Joan, Fiona, Martin, family and friends,
I am saddened yet honoured to speak to you all today, to give you a brief insight into John’s (or JKS as he was affectionally known) life in archery, and acknowledge his gift to the archery world through his unstinting work and time given.
John’s archery career began just over 60 years ago, when he first learnt to shoot at Bisham Abbey, Marlow. Clearly not content with just shooting, he decided, initially, to follow a coaching path, qualifying in 1954 and later meeting Joan, who had also qualified as an archery coach.
He evidently enjoyed this side of archery, for during the 1950’s he contributed to various books and commenced a regular column in the “British Archer” magazine, I am sure a number of us remember reading, and re-reading these articles.
John was one of the founders of the National Association of Archery Coaches at this time, which was a huge influence on National and Regional Coaching.
However, he also decided to “add another string to his bow” and also took up judging, a role he took to the highest level.
In the 1960’s John, following a move to Berkshire, fully immersed himself in Berkshire County Archery, and formed the Crowthorne Archery Club, which is still operating today. His Judging moved forwards, and using his administration skills and fore-thought established a formalised judging scheme in the South which was then adopted Nationally. He still carried on with coaching and obtained his senior coach appointment, swiftly followed by becoming one of the first National Judges in the UK.
The 1970’s saw his judging move on, and after a role at the World Championships in York in 1971, he became a full International Judge in 1974 when officiating at the European Championships in Zagreb.
He thus continued with his very strong support for archery in both coaching and judging, chairing National Committees, organising conferences and working tirelessly for the Berkshire County.
He was given many International Judge appointments, but still found time to write for archery, publishing a book (Archery Today) in 1988, and co-writing the GNAS Judges Handbook.
In the South of England John was the Judge at the Southern Counties Archery Meeting from 1994 until he retired in 2008 – 14 wonderful years for us as archers with the best gentleman in archery to make sure we were enjoying our shooting.
John’s work over nearly 60 years in the sport touched so many people, and still does either through his book, articles on coaching or through the support and mentoring he gave many of the Judges here today. John had, only recently, taken the time to write to me to congratulate me on an international appointment I have been given, and had to a great extent been a mentor to me and other UK International Judges, and the foundation of our “success” was laid with John’s work. I was so pleased to hear from him, and to know that he was following my progress.
John was rewarded with Honorary Life Membership of GNAS / Archery GB in 2010 for his services to the sport, but more importantly to him I expect was the many friendships he made in the UK and across the globe, and a number have been in touch since hearing of his passing. Tom Dielen, the Secretary General of World Archery, asked that we “give his sincere condolences to Joan and the family – John was a great person and Judge. Archery GB has lost a great member”
David Sherratt, CEO of GNAS / Archery GB, expressed “how impressed he was by John’s archery knowledge and by his courtesy; a true gentleman”.
Paul Paulsen, a retired International Judge, wrote to say how sad he was to hear John had passed away, and that he served with him on a number of occasions, and learned to respect him as an International Judge.
John Wormersley from Australia wrote saying he had known John for over 30 years, recalling John’s ability not only as a good Judge, but also his ability to “hold court” among a group of Judges at conferences with his stories, jokes and limericks. He also gave us, in the UK, a lasting memory too – for he said “let’s hope he is now enjoying his archery somewhere in the great beyond with those who have gone before – Don Stamp, Stan Patterson, Doc Wotton and others from both National and International Judging". This left me with one thought – John would be Director of Shooting, so which one of the others was the Chairman of Judges!
John, or JKS as he was more affectionally known, has left a lasting and memorable impression on the sport of archery, and the many people he touched within it. JKS was the epitome of the GNAS motto – “Union, Trueheart and Courtesie”, and a better gentleman in archery you could not find.
Rest in Peace, John, and Thank You.
SCAS Regional Shooting Committee