Judy King, the captain of Shropshire’s over-60s ladies tennis team, has received a High Sheriff of Shropshire Award for services to the community.
The awards are held each year to highlight the impressive contributions made by people and organisations around the county.
Judy’s outstanding achievement of raising more than £25,000 for Severn Hospice was recognised by Dean Harris during her final weeks in office as the High Sheriff of Shropshire.
Judy, from Broseley, was inspired to start raising funds for the charity as a thank you for the wonderful care given to her partner Mandy de Winter, who sadly passed away at the hospice in September 2018.
The Shropshire circle dancing teacher, who admits it was “a complete and utter surprise” to be told she had been nominated for an award, is now planning to raise even more money for the hospice in Mandy’s memory.
Judy says: “Mandy was cared for by the hospice services, and for the last 10 days I stayed with her in the hospice.
“The level of care was beyond anything you could ever have hoped for and they became like a family really.
“I wanted to give something back to them. I thought initially wouldn’t it be nice if I could raise enough money to cover the cost of her care, because, of course, we don’t pay anything.
“I set out to raise about £10,000 and it just went from there. It’s now over £25,000 because I just keep coming up with ideas.”
Judy’s next fundraising challenge is to climb to the summit of Snowdon in September: “I was never a walker,” she says. “Mandy teased me and cajoled me, and I enjoyed walking by the end of our time together, so she will be laughing at the idea of me walking up Snowdon.
“It’s an event organised through the hospice and it just happens to be the day before the third anniversary of her death, so synchronicity meant I had to do it.”
It will be the latest in a growing list of fundraising ventures, with Judy always thinking of different ways to keep the money rolling in for a charity that means so much to her.
“There’s been many, many different ways,” she reflects. “Mandy and myself travelled abroad, teaching circle dancing, both individually and together, to Brazil, America, Canada, Sweden, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, so there was a very worldwide following.
“Mandy was very loved. We had also made recordings of music and choreographed dances, so after she died people were playing her music and dancing her dances, and the money they had taken for their evening of dance or day of dance was sent to me for the hospice.
“I love gardening, so I’ve held two open gardens where people could come and sit in the garden, have tea, coffee and cake, and make donations.
“I also sell Christmas cards for the hospice, raffle tickets, and, as it was Mandy’s birthday earlier in this month, I put together a quiz, which raised £3,500, by sending it out worldwide, receiving anything from £5 to £200 in donations.”
Tennis has also helped raise funds for the Severn Hospice, with Judy holding a social tennis tournament at The Shrewsbury Club, where she is a member, which proved to be successful.
Judy’s own love of tennis started when she first picked up a racket as a junior in Surrey, qualifying to play at Junior Wimbledon.
“That was amazing,” she recalls. “It was lovely, a very special time. There was a little circuit with everyone playing all the summer tournaments with a view to qualifying – and I did.
“I played Sue Barker. She was very, very good and the top junior when I was playing Junior Wimbledon.”
Judy’s busy career, initially as a PE teacher, meant she did not play tennis for a number of years, but her affection for the sport remained and was rekindled when she was warmly welcomed to Broseley Tennis Club, her local club, in 2016.
“I didn’t play for 33 years until about five years ago,” says Judy, who is now looking forward to captaining Shropshire’s over-60 ladies team.
“I then picked it up again and Broseley Tennis Club were very instrumental in getting me back playing and starting again before I joined The Shrewsbury Club.
“It’s given me an interest outside work and takes me out of the house. I have real friends there who know me in a different way.
“Most of them didn’t know Mandy, but they are just lovely and they have supported me with everything.
“Tennis has become really important and I’m an organiser. I inherited the captaincy because our last county captain went up an age group.
“I’m trying to get new players into the squad, so I’ve sent out an email saying the over-60s are looking for new members.
“We have a trial on May 22 with four new people coming along and existing squad members also attending, so then we’ll sort our squad out.”
Judy has been an excellent addition to the Shropshire side, helping the over-60s to promotion in the LTA’s Seniors’ Inter-County Championship during her first season.
She has also enjoyed notable success in Tennis Shropshire’s Senior Championships, winning the 2018 and 2019 doubles with Judy Edwards and Liz Boyle respectively, and the mixed event with Iain McDonald in 2019.
If you would like to support Judy as she continues to raise money for Severn Hospice, please visit https://justgiving.com/fundraising/JudyandMandy?fbclid=IwAR0EeP-QxFfkg-xTLob8e2HcD80Z0UlaDFiHevaQ3sjjE_K2mmxt24FAbjA