Some years ago Wingerworth Fencing Club was doing a fencing demonstration at our local branch of Sainsbury , trying to attract younger people to our great sport. Me being me and a fan of the Vets was targeting everybody , one of whom was a silver haired, bespectacled lady, Fiona, who when approached expressed a minor interest and took a leaflet.
A couple of weeks later Fiona turned up at our purely Epee club and started to learn. Fiona had done some foil at Uni , but she wanted to learn Sabre, so I started to coach her . Fiona who was an accomplished musician would disappear to America every year for 6 months to play her fiddle and banjo at the local festivals. She would come back to England for the other six months and would play her music at least one day a week. This of course interrupted her Sabre training, but she worked very hard to improve and joined the Vets, with several small but significant achievements, always happy with the odd hit rather than the odd win. The true spirit of the Vets !
Fiona was a great asset to Wingerworth, as an ambassador and helping with the children on a Friday. She was just about to embark on a coaching course when she was diagnosed with a rare aggressive incurable blood cancer.
She fought hard against it as any sabreur would. Myself and Max visited her when she was in hospital at Sheffield. Max took her the practical gifts of something to read and something to nibble. I took her a foam Sabre so she could practice her parries. Fiona spent her final few days at the local hospice. I spent an hour with her on Sunday 17th July after the Derbyshire Fencing Union Epee competition. Fiona wanted all the details of who had won and other placings. She then discussed where her fencing kit was to be given ( to good deserving people and to help the club she loved ). It was as if that conversation was the last piece of her brilliant jigsaw puzzle. She said she was ready for sleep and died around 2 hours later.
Fiona had a great sense of fun and led a full and varied life from archaeology to education and died a Sabreur !
Raise a Bottle of wine to her !