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Home   Ashford   News   Article

Ashford Hockey Club captain Harry Pickering from West Brabourne dies suddenly at home three months after being brought back to life

25 July 2014
by Samantha Williams

Retired teacher Harry Pickering passed away aged 70 at his home in West Brabourne from a suspected cardiac arrest.

He was putting the vacuum cleaner away in a cupboard upstairs when his wife Karen heard a bump.

Karen and Harry went on a Baltic cruise only last month

Karen and Harry Pickering went on a Baltic cruise only last month

Mrs Pickering tried to resuscitate him, as did the paramedics when they arrived, but sadly there was nothing that could be done.

The news of Mr Pickering's passing last Friday has hit his friends and family hard.

Only three months ago he underwent an operation after suffering a heart attack while playing in a hockey game in Sittingbourne. 

Harry in action playing hockey

Harry Pickering, who collapsed on the pitch, in action playing hockey

Mrs Pickering, his wife of 44 years, said: "I am in shock. I feel numb. Harry was a very loving husband and also very funny. We laughed a lot.

"We looked after each other. He was very supportive of me. We were very close. We would play golf together and travelled a lot.

"He always liked doing a lot and knew how to have fun. We thought we would have a few more years together."

Mr Pickering, who was born in Yorkshire in 1944, moved to Hythe when he was 13.

Harry, with Karen, after his first heart attack

After his first heart attack, Harry Pickering is pictured with wife Karen

He attended the Harvey Grammar School, in Folkestone, and joined Folkestone Cricket Club at 16.

During his first match, he took seven wickets for 20 runs, including a hat-trick.

He would later join both Wye and Little Chart cricket clubs, playing his last game for Little Chart the Sunday before he died.

After leaving school, he studied teaching at Canterbury Christ Church University and took his first teaching position at Hythe Primary School.

In 1968, when he was 24, he moved to Japan with a friend to teach English to Japanese businessmen and students.

Harry and Karen on holiday

Harry Pickering and wife Karen on holiday

It was there he met American Karen, who was also a teacher. The couple hit it off straight away and married in 1970 in Tokyo.

They left Japan at the end of 1970 and travelled around south east Asia, then spent a few months teaching in Australia, before island hopping in the South Pacific.

"He always liked doing a lot and knew how to have fun. We thought we would have a few more years together..." - Karen Pickering

They also lived in Denver, Colorado, for a few years, before moving to the UK in 1973.

Mrs Pickering said: "I think Harry missed cricket too much to stay in America. People said to me his team-mates were like his family."

The couple lived in both Hamstreet and Hythe and then moved to West Brabourne, where they have lived since 1977.

Mr Pickering returned to Hythe Primary School, where he worked for a total of 27 years, before retiring in 1997.

After this, he worked as a supply teacher at both Kennington and Kingsnorth primary schools.

As well as cricket, Mr Pickering enjoyed playing both golf and hockey.

He was a member of the Ashford Hockey Club, in Kennington, for 41 years. For most of the time, he was captain and was awarded lifelong membership last year. He was the current captain of the Antiques team.

In June, he also received the mayor's award for outstanding service to the hockey club.

He had also been a member of the Ashford Golf Club, in Sandyhurst Lane, since 1981 and the couple would play up to three times a week since retiring.

Couple Karen and Harry Pickering married in Tokyo in 1970

Couple Karen and Harry Pickering married in Tokyo in 1970

Mrs Pickering said: "He was very good at golf. He didn't need to learn, he was just good at everything he did.

"He had a bucket list and wanted to play on 500 different courses.

"He was meticulous and would write down every course he played on. We'd played all over the world, including Turkey, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, France. He made it to 465."

A barbecue organised by Harry to say thank you to those who helped save his life in April, will go ahead as planned tonight. 

The event will kick off at the Ashford Hockey Club, in Ball Lane, at 6.30pm.

A celebration of Harry’s life will be held at Wye Church on Monday from 2pm, and then afterwards at the hockey club.

The family ask that instead of flowers, money is donated to South East Coast Ambulance Service’s charitable fund, which helps buy defibrillators.

Money can be donated at the ceremony or through Earl & Co funeral directors in Willesborough (01233 620522).


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