Sussex members and supporters will be saddened to learn of the death, on June 1, of dear old Keith Partridge who had been a character, loyal Sussex supporter and major fund raiser for the Club for well over fifty years at Hove.
Keith had a number of personal obstacles to overcome; he was registered blind, had a severe speech impediment which made communicating difficult and struggled with his mobility. And yet, despite all this, he was one of the most cheerful individuals I have ever met and never let any of his disabilities blunt his enthusiasm for life. He loved his cricket and his involvement with Sussex County Cricket Club.
I am told by Brenda Lower, who shared the same age as Keith, that she could never remember a time when Keith wasn’t at Hove, and Brenda has been coming to the County Ground since she was a girl in the late 1950s. When I first came to Hove a decade later, there was Keith volunteering on behalf of the old Welfare Association selling raffle tickets around the ground. He would also get involved with bucket collections for beneficiaries and charities.
During the 1970s the welfare office at Hove ran a major Christmas draw each year and a Donkey Derby at Easter. Keith was, in effect, the lead salesman. He knew all of the pubs, cafes and places to go, in the Brighton and Hove area, to sell tickets. When the Supporters’ Club, first chaired by Ken Hopkins, was established in the mid-1970s, Keith transferred his loyalties to that and stepped up a few gears. His profile as fund-raiser grew to the point where, twenty-five-years on, the Supporters’ Club were celebrating the collection of over £250,000. I put Keith’s contribution towards this, conservatively, at £100,000. The Supporters’ Club invested all of their income in a variety of requirements of the Club, whether it was a new lawn mower, a water-hog, covers, sightscreens or scoreboard maintenance. Without Keith’s considerable efforts a lot of these purchases would simply not have happened.
I have many happy memories of Keith at Hove with buckets, raffle tickets and scratch cards. He would circle the ground a couple of times on most major match days. His endearing personality and great banter made it very hard to refuse to give him at least a quid each time. He loved being ribbed and a group of us picked up on an occasion when Keith’s own scratch card happened to be the a winner and around the same time, when gambling was an innocent pastime at cricket grounds, Keith was feeding the ‘fruit machine’ in the long room with fifty pence pieces and hit the jackpot. I believe £250 in fifty ‘Ps’ poured out of the machine much to Keith’s delight. Thereafter every time he came near the deck-chairs, cries of ‘Fixed’ would rain down on him. He loved it, wallowed in the attention and of course sold even more cards. He normally sat with us for ten minutes, shared a story or joke or two, before moving on bouncing round the ground. He knew the vast majority of regulars at Hove and no doubt had the same banter all over the ground. This was his heyday. The digital world did see a decline in Keith’s activities but his loyalty to Sussex remained undiminished.
Keith attended the vast majority of Club functions and lunches. He was also a long-term member of the Sussex Cricket Society and rarely missed a meeting even on cold, wet, miserable winter evenings. Outside cricket he loved his opera and classical music and would travel far and wide to attend concerts.
In 2018 Keith suffered a heart attack from which he never really recovered and he passed away on 1st June. His memory and contribution at Hove will remain strong and he will be missed by all those who shared so many pleasant moments in his company over so many years.
Richard J Barrow