June was Blewbury Croquet Club’s fairy godmother, always ready to help out wherever needed. She was elected Membership Secretary at the inaugural committee meeting in February 1994. For the next two decades, she was BCC’s administrative rock. She collected annual subscriptions and kept members’ contact details up to date, with their discipline preferences (AC, GC or both) and the relevant handicaps. She also controlled the petty cash: in the pre-internet banking era, cash was king. Andy Robertson says it’s humbling that June’s roles were split between David Long, as secretary, and himself, as treasurer, when ill health forced her to resign in 2015.
June Adrienne Lacey was born in Alexandria on February 10th, 1943. From the start she liked good food: faced with a shortage of powdered milk, her father Kenneth, serving in the Royal Navy during World War 2, secured Horlicks rations from his fellow officers to feed his first daughter. Over the next eight decades, June adopted an equivalent humanity as her raison d’etre, giving to others without restraint.
After teenage years ice skating to school in Canada, she decided on a career as a physiotherapist, no easy matter as science had never been on the curriculum. Studying the O level syllabus to the point it was hard to tell if she was the assigned teacher or vice versa, she acquired the necessary qualifications. She trained in London and Oxford with her sister, Benny, a future occupational therapist. Benny introduced her to Paul, a student at St Peter’s College, and the couple were married in Belsize Park in 1971. Stephanie and Nicholas were born in Swiss Cottage, Jessica in Goring Heath, before the Wolffs moved to Blewbury in 1985.
June created wonderful family homes in Grahame Close and later Pound House, designing gardens rich with flowers and vegetables. Andy Robertson shared warm memories of her expertise with cuttings and seedlings, many now flourishing in his garden in East Hanney.
She threw herself into the PTA when the children were at school and found time to help Paul with his Patents business in Reading. She handled front of house for the annual Blewbury Players production – usually Shakespeare – in the Orchard Dene amphitheatre and welcomed newcomers into village life. When she moved out of London in the 1980s, Rosemary Tilden picked Blewbury because friends said it was the friendliest village in the area, a view confirmed at regular Grahame Close barbecues hosted by the Wolffs and other neighbours.
Jolyon Kay started Blewbury Croquet Club, initially using a strip of grass opposite the Melland Room, in 1994. Paul, June and Rosemary were founder members; with Rosemary and Bernadine Shirley-Smith, at times secretary and chairman in the early days, June celebrated the inaugural year by creating the winning BCC float – croquet played with flamingo hoops in the manner of Lewis Carroll – in the winter parade.
Since then, the Wolffs have been among BCC’s most loyal members. June played AC with dedication and pleasure, supporting Paul’s rise up the rankings with intelligent comment as well as encouragement. She was an invaluable social secretary, running campaigns to persuade people to try the game, then introducing them to likely friends and playing partners.
And she cooked: when tournament regulars spotted her at work in the clubhouse kitchen, they dreamed of an early lunch. She administered the match rota for many years, calling on volunteers to cook, serve and clear up according to a strict schedule, but doing the lion’s share herself. She ensured that BCC lunches were famous throughout southern England; as a bonus, her enterprise recorded a consistent profit.
According to Susan Tilbrook, her BCC signature dishes were coronation chicken and semifreddo dessert. And she insisted, volubly if necessary, that coffee should be ground rather than instant. ‘She never settled for second best and she was always a great laugh’, says Susan. She remembers them as partners in crime, spicing up their duties with commentary on the run of play and those who led the indelicate charge when the buffet opened. Appropriately, June’s memorial gift to BCC is a dishwasher: valuable extra time for chat.
After a long illness, June died peacefully at home on February 20th, 2022. She was buried on the edge of a wood above Lambourn overlooking the Berkshire Downs she loved on March 15th. The guests who gathered to say goodbye heard tributes from family and friends and enjoyed typically generous Wolff hospitality. ‘Mum always loved a party’, said Nick while he was arranging that magical woodland burial. It was the perfect send off.