Stuart Staveley

1926 - 2009

Two Obituaries are available below...

We are sad to report that Dr Stuart Staveley (Vice President of the EBU) has passed away.

John Williams who knew him well has written the following obituary:

I arrived at the EBU in Thame in the Spring of 1978, charged with taking over from Stuart Staveley as Executive Secretary of the EBU.

The EBU had recently established offices at 15B High Street, but part of the operation – the trading department – was located in the Staveley private household across the road at (I seem to remember) No. 81. Stuart was assisted – some might say ruled – by his wife Ann, who acted as Assistant Secretary. Certainly it was Ann who took all the phone calls from Harold Franklin during the day and night-time, and by and large did his (i.e. Harold’s) bidding.

I had a few precious months with Stuart while he tried to school me in the mysteries of management of the EBU. He was a careful and punctilious manager ("look after the pennies" was his byword), and this was entirely in keeping with his other role as a part-time lecturer in classical history at London University. Stuart was the ultimate academic. He deplored and despised anything that wasn’t correct or traditional in the modern world. He insisted on spelling Yugoslavia with a J.

Stuart was a founder of Aylesbury Bridge Club, where he took me to play with him soon after I arrived. Naturally, I had to learn the Blue Team Blue Club book from cover to cover – the most rigorous and structured of bidding systems – at 24 hours notice in order to do this. (When we played, every system bid in the book seemed to come up, and I got them all right, much more by luck than judgment, which Stuart accepted without comment.) He was a fine technician at the bridge table, though Ann regarded him as far too passive in the bidding.

At this time Stuart and Ann were looking towards retirement in Scotland (though Ann was already ill and sadly didn’t survive long in their remote highland cottage).

Stuart had set himself the task of writing a book on the history of punctuation in the English language – perhaps not destined for best-seller status – and this kept him occupied for a good time.

He didn’t lose his bridge contacts, remaining as Secretary of the International Bridge Press Association for some years. He had accepted a role as a Vice-President of the EBU (though he never attended meetings) and made occasional appearances at European and World events in a press role.

The last time I saw him was at the World Teams Olympiad in Maastricht in 2000, when we shared a table at the final dinner, and he had some cutting things to say about substandard fancy cuisine. He was accompanied, I recall, by his “new” wife, also called Ann – which somehow seemed entirely fitting.

Stuart was in many ways the founder of the modern EBU. He will be remembered fondly and with enormous respect by all who knew him.

Patrick Jourdain. From an obituary for the Daily Telegraph.

Dr Eastland Stuart Staveley, 8th June 1926 – 27th November 2009

Stuart Staveley of Ross-shire, who has died aged 83, was a code-breaker at Bletchley Park in the last year of the war as a rarity, a British teenager who knew Japanese. He later became a key administrator for the game of bridge in England and then for the International Bridge Press Association, a club of the world’s bridge journalists.

Eastland Stuart Staveley was born on 8th June 1926 to a middle-class family in Birkenhead where his father taught history at the local school.

Staveley went up to Queen’s College, Oxford to read ancient history. He had already volunteered for the navy and during his first year at college was recruited by naval intelligence. His interviewer was Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond books.

Staveley went on a course to learn Japanese before being transferred to Bletchley Park, the subject of the 2001 film “Enigma”.

After the war he completed his studies at Oxford, taking a doctorate. He lectured in ancient history at St Andrew’s University and then Bedford College, London.

Dr. Staveley was musical and sang in the Liverpool Philharmonic Choir. He met his first wife, Anne, at the University opera society. From 1965 to 1978 the two of them were the staff of the growing English Bridge Union, initially with world bridge champion Dimmie Fleming as Secretary, and then on their own from their home in Thame, Oxon. When membership reached 8,000 the Staveleys created the first office of the EBU across the road from their house. With membership now three times as great the office is in Aylesbury. Staveley was a county bridge-player who was in the Oxfordshire team that won the County Championship for the Tollemache Cup in 1974.

Dr & Mrs Staveley retired to Shieldaig in Scotland in 1978. Mrs Staveley became Membership Secretary for the International Bridge Press Association. When she died in 1985 Dr Staveley took over the post for twenty years until he retired at the 2005 World Bridge Championships in Estoril.

In 1986 Dr Staveley married again. His second wife, also Anne, had been the best friend of his first wife when they had been at school together in Bolton.

Staveley was a man who eschewed modern technology. Travel by aeroplane was avoided, no computer was allowed in the house. Reports were produced on an ancient typewriter but were always precise and accurate.

A friend recalls that he was meticulous, sometimes to excess. Bridge stories from World and European Bridge Championships were posted to the world’s bridge journalists the morning after each event ended. On one occasion the postal rate was quoted as a cent short of the full franc. The purchaser was expected to round up. But Staveley returned from the Post Office with one hundred stamps of fifty cents, two hundred of twenty cents, etc. Later, as his colleagues licked the four hundredth stamp, there was some cursing under breath.

Staveley had one son who predeceased him and leaves a widow and two grandchildren.

Sunday Telegraph Salver winner: 1967 and 1969