David Atkinson passed away last October. His doctors had predicted his demise early in the summer, but he was determined to enjoy his passion for cricket for as long as possible and saw out the season and the autumn internationals, before succumbing to the inevitable. Cricket was his sporting obsession; his daughter remembers having to cajole her father away from the test match on TV so he could escort her to her wedding – ‘time to watch just one more over’ was his repeated refrain.
David was brought up in Derbyshire and attended Clare College, Cambridge, graduating in French and German. He joined the army in 1944 and his language skills were soon harnessed, being asked to learn Japanese, which he did effortlessly, and then being posted to the Far East. He retained his fascination with Japan, building a stamp collection of that country, and in later years he loved to go to a local Japanese restaurant and chat to the waiters in their own language.
After the war David went back to Cambridge and decided to study medicine, despite not having a scientific background. However, David was equally brilliant at this new discipline. After qualification working at London hospitals as a Registrar, and following a brief flirtation with heart surgery, he became a urologist. It was while at Guy’s Hospital that he met and married Monica, a Jamaican who also became a surgeon.
In 1962 they upped sticks and moved to Jamaica, where he again worked as a Registrar. They stayed there for 14 years and were blessed with a son (David) and daughter (Mary). His West Indian and particularly his Jamaican stamp collections enlarged considerably. He became doctor to the West Indies cricket team but rumour has it that this was just a ruse to ensure he could attend all the test matches.
The family came back to the UK in 1976, resuming his career as a urologist at the North Middlesex Hospital until his retirement in 1991. Whilst in Jamaica the family had been friends with the Barnes family, and when their son John came to the UK and eventually joined Liverpool FC he became a committed supporter of the club, influencing his daughter and grandson, Luke, to do likewise. David’s stamp collecting interests were broad-based, as evidenced by the 150 albums he has bequeathed to his family. In recent years he has been encouraging his grandson to take up philately and at the post-funeral gathering he did indeed express an interest in getting more involved – we can only hope.
David joined BWISC in 1979 and soon became an active member, serving as Bulletin Editor from 1985 until 1990. I got to know David through our love of all things Jamaican. He formed one of the most comprehensive collections of Jamaica airmails, and this collection and his knowledge of the subject provided the foundation for the book that he and I have co-authored (which should be finalised and published this year).
David was always a glass-half-full sort of person and worked hard to make everyone’s lives a little better. This attitude was reflected in the large turnout at his funeral, and everyone left with a smile on their faces as the closing music of ‘Soul Limbo’ by Booker T and the MGs was played (recognisable as the BBC cricket theme).
Our condolences go out to his sister, children and grand-children.