IT takes a special person to stay in one position for 50 years and Old Penarthians were pleased to honour Nigel Williams at a recent celebratory lunch as he achieved an unbeaten half century as honorary treasurer of the club.

The lunch was organised by club chairman Stephen Clarke with support from Nigel’s daughter, Laura Davies, with food provided by Wilmore’s of Penarth.

The function was held in the clubhouse in the Churchill Room which was named in honour of his great friend and Twickenham roommate Roy Churchill who would have loved to have been present to celebrate Nigel’s outstanding service to the club.

Penarth Times:

Nigel Williams with WRU directors John Manders, Gwyn Bowden and David Young

In his stead, Roy’s wife Joyce said a few words on behalf of Roy and took the opportunity to apologise for the lateness of her husband's end of season accounting.

The guest list reflected the period of Nigel’s tenure with friends and rugby colleagues from across the generations.

Also in attendance were three members of the WRU board of directors, David Young, Gwyn Bowden and John Manders, reflecting the respect that the union place on the volunteers that maintain the community level of rugby in the country.

Penarth Times:

John Manders presents a citation to Nigel Williams on behalf of the WRU

Nigel started his rugby career with Old Penarthians in the mid-1960s as a blond-haired second row with an expertise as a line-out jumper.

In the days before lifting was allowed he was always above his opponents, perhaps with the help of fellow forwards Jeff Evans and Nick Chandler. Scrum half Bob Young was however critical of the amount of tapped possession he regularly had to deal with.

These were the times when 1st XVs played 35 to 40 games a season so there was already the need for a strong commitment to training and playing when Nigel volunteered to take over the role of honorary treasurer in 1971 from Peter Weber.

He would already have served on committees chaired by Roger Cradick and alongside Mike Youde, both in attendance at the lunch, before going on to serve as treasurer with five presidents, three honorary secretaries and nine chairmen.

Thirty-three different 1st XV captains would also have tried to encourage Nigel to spend some of the club’s money on player refreshments for efforts made on behalf of the team and the club.

Within Nigel’s tenure the club has grown exponentially from the small rectangular prefab building to a facility that now encompasses squash courts, a gymnasium, newly refurbished changing rooms and shower area together with an enhanced lounge and bar area.

All of these changes having been developed under one man’s watchful eye on the finances.

Initially there were brewery loans but subsequent improvements have been managed from within the club funds supported by grants form the WRU and other generous benefactors.

During this time he has always had the support of his wife Jan, daughter Laura and son and former first XV winger Huw.

More recently Nigel has been able to support his grandson Steffan who is part of the thriving mini & junior rugby section of the club.

All were present at the lunch as were many of his friends and former playing colleagues together with their wives who enjoyed the reminisces of David Baker about his introduction to the club and trips to Ireland and France.

Club president Tony Crimp also paid tribute to Nigel’s service to the club before John Manders of the WRU also gave an eloquent and humorous account of his former club, Old Illtydians and their participation at the Old Penarthians Sevens tournament.

Mr Manders then read out a citation from WRU chairman Robert Butcher who praised Nigel’s outstanding contribution as a volunteer to a single club which was the bedrock on which Welsh rugby was founded.

A framed copy of the letter was presented to Nigel.

Nigel was also the recipient of a WRU tie presented to him by district director David Young and a specially designed polo shirt to acknowledge his 50 years of service by Stephen Clarke.

After the lunch the attendees stayed to reminisce about times past and to look forward to the future as Nigel continues into his 51st year as honorary Treasurer.

In fact this continued service was confirmed at the club’s AGM in July and at the same time the chairman presented a commemorative plate designed by Rumney Pottery as a final thank you for 50 years of hard work and effort that ensures that Old Penarthians has a solid foundation on which to grow and prosper.