Obituary - William (Bill) Plenderleith
William (Bill) Plenderleith
On 11th January 2010, Webmaster received an e-mail from Nick Stephen (Rhodes 1946-51):
I have some sad news to report, that Bill "Toto" Plenderleith died on 15th December 2009.
Bill and I go a long way back and were close friends for about 60 years.
I have nearly completed a tribute and wonder whether you would publish it in the next newsletter.
On 21st January 2010, Nick Stephen sent Webmaster the following tribute to Bill:
Bill "Toto" Plenderleith (1929 - 2009)
I was in the UK in August last year and was fortunate enough to spend some time with Bill. Over a jar or two, we
agreed that we had known each other for some sixty years. A friendship which began on the cricket oval at the
Prince of Wales School.
Bill was born in Nairobi in June 1929, attended the Prince of Wales School and was a member of the Old Cambrians
Sports Club (later Impala Club). He worked for the Nairobi firm of Kettles Roy & Tyson or, as Bill was fond of
calling them, "Kettles Roy & 7 for 27". This, a reference to the bowling figures of the great England fast bowler,
Frank Tyson, whose performance at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1954 won that Test match.
Years on, at a time when people were leaving Kenya to resettle in other parts of the world, many friendships
faltered and died. Happily circumstances allowed Bill and I to keep ours strong and lasting. I was best man at
his wedding and he was godfather to my eldest son.
His connection with Australia, brought about by his inclusion in the Kenya Olympic squad for the Melbourne Games
in 1956, ultimately influenced my family and I to resettled in Victoria after two restless years in Britain. Bill
had a knack of making good friends wherever he went and Melbourne was no exception. My family and I were quickly
taken in by a group which made us most welcome in our new home. Needless to say most of them were connected in
some way, to hockey.
Bill was an avid race-goer and a talented performer in a number of sports. He was selected to play cricket for
Tanzania, hockey for Kenya against the touring sides of India, Tata Sports, Great Britain and South Africa and
excelled on the squash court. A genuine all-rounder.
But hockey was his first love. He was one of many top players who emerged from Prince of Wales School in the
forties and fifties. In a game that at the time, was rightfully dominated by Indian players in Kenya, he stood
out together with fellow Old Cambrians Dudley Coulson and Ron Frank to be obvious choices for Kenya’s Olympic
Hockey Team of 1956.
He returned to live and work in Australia for a number of years after the Olympics. He played first league
hockey in Melbourne and represented the State of Victoria in the Austalian Hockey Championships.
The game that he loved however, took it’s toll on his body. His total physical commitment was legend and his
sorties into the circle in search of goal were brave (some said suicidal) and caused injuries which in later
years, required a number of operations on his legs.He was small in stature, which prompted a close friend of
his in Melbourne to joke that without those operations, he would have been 6’3"!
Sadly it was a complication which arose after one of these operations that caused the pulmonary embolism which
took his life.
As those of us from that era move through our seventies and into our eighties, inevitably, our number will
dwindle. I welcome the Kenya Regiment sitreps and Old Cambrian newsletters but I always dread turning to the
obituary pages. Sadly, the name of Bill Plenderleith will feature in this issue. He was a kind and generous
man and will be mourned and missed by a host of friends.
I now recall the good times we enjoyed together and thank God, there were plenty of them.