Ivor Smith, who was probably the oldest current life-long Amport resident, has died aged 79.
Ivor, a forester who worked both privately and for the Forestry Commission, attended to and shaped many of the landmark hedges and trees around Amport and neighbouring villages, including the hedge that runs much of the length of Sarson Lane.
For many years, until ill-health forced him to retire about ten years ago, he was also the groundsman for Amport Cricket Club for whom he was also a big-hitting batsman, tending both the pitches at the side and, later, top of Keepers Hill. He died on June 26, 20 years to the day after the Amport cricket pavilion was officially opened.
His early spring and summer evenings were spent cutting the outfield using his own Land Rover to pull the gang mowers before rolling the perfect square, going home to tea, and then enjoying a pint or three at the Amport Inn, now The Hawk Inn.
“Ivor, with help from others, turned a ploughed field into one of the top grounds in the county, always ensuring a good ‘track’ with just enough ‘bounce’ in it,” said Amport club chairman Keith Goacher, who played cricket, soccer, and darts alongside Ivor for many years.
“Senior members of the club remember him whenever they enter the ground because the row of ornamental trees along the edge of the ground were planted by him and always referred to as ‘Ivor’s trees’.”
Born in March, 1935, at 12 Sarson Cottages, the home he occupied all his life, taking over the tenancy when his mother, Wyn, died, Ivor was a great singer and accomplished musician in his earlier years, but would only get his accordion out for a public performance when he accompanied piano-playing Charles Collingwood, a fellow Amport cricketer who was also a cast member in The Archers radio serial for many years. Ivor remained a colourful raconteur, with countless stories of village happenings and characters.
He collapsed on the garden path alongside the now-empty dahlia beds that for many years caused passers-by to stop to photograph the display. Ambulance staff bringing him home from a routine hospital check-up made valiant and prolonged efforts to revive him before paramedics and police took over but he died 48 hours later in the Royal Hampshire County Hospital at Winchester. Ivor, who never married, is survived by several cousins.