Derek Semmence passed away yesterday, 29 March 2020, aged 81. Derek was born in Worthing on 20 April 1938 and educated at Shoreham Grammar School before he made his first class debut for Sussex in 1956 at the age of eighteen against Warwickshire, scoring 36. Derek Semmence was a right-handed batsman who bowled right arm medium pace. He played for Sussex between 1956 and 1959 before returning to Sussex in 1967. After his career in First Class cricket was over, Derek continued to be involved in cricket at youth level, becoming an excellent coach at Hurstpierpoint College. He also played for Sussex seniors for a number of years until 2013.
In his first ever season for Sussex Derek had the great thrill of scoring a maiden century of 108 off the Nottinghamshire bowlers at Trent Bridge to make him the youngest Sussex player to score a century in First Class Cricket.
Derek was a lovely man and someone who didn’t have to earn your respect: it happened naturally. He had many friends in the Seniors who will have played in the same side as he did. He was still bowling late away swing in the last seasons that he played.
For a number of years Derek took cricketers from Hurstpierpoint College to Jamnagar, capital city of Nawanagar. Derek and his wife, Christine enjoyed India and they returned on many occasions to Jamnagar, staying at the royal palace.
Derek was very supportive of the Museum donating various memorabilia including a fine autograph page from 1937 which was displayed in the Museum.
He was a wonderful servant to Sussex cricket at all levels and he will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with Derek’s wife Christine and their children, Mark and Jacqueline.
For more on Derek’s cricket career go to his page
Here we publish a short extract of the eulogy given by Jon Filby at the Celebration of Rupert’s life in the Long Room in October.
“Rupert lived a life that most can only dream of. First, he enjoyed a long career as a professional sportsman, then, if that rare achievement was not enough, he became a successful model and film star, before enjoying a very long and healthy retirement spent in the company of a beautiful actress. This was truly the stuff of dreams and it is made all the more admirable by the fact that Rupert so obviously enjoyed it all and yet took absolutely nothing for granted.
As pointed out by Ian Thomson in the Museum publication that marked Rupert’s 90th Birthday, Rupert was a “Good Un, with a heart of gold”: Always remembering his friends and being intensely loyal to Sussex Cricket shown both by his regular visits to former colleagues such as Ted James, by the occasion when he organised a car load of David Sheppard’s Sussex colleagues to visit him in Liverpool shortly before his death despite expecting only to be able to spend an hour or so with him and by his long and sustained support for the Museum. It was a lovely thing that later in his life when Rupert found getting about more difficult, he himself received regular visits from fellow Sussex Cricketers including Tony Buss, Arthur Lawrence, Gilly Potter and Ian Thomson. As for his support for the museum, he not only organised his famous Rottingdean Cricket Lunches on our behalf but was also not afraid to intervene when he thought it necessary. He always did it with wisdom and a smile on his face but his support for the museum was invaluable and he was a constant source of encouragement to us all but especially to Rob Boddie and Norman Epps. The Museum team all held Rupert in the highest esteem.”