From the Reeve collection.* This is a fascinating character (especially from a bowling point of view) and although manager for Team England (as it was not known then) for the 1958 Cardiff Commonwealth Games bowls team and a superb and noted player of the game he is unknown to Wikipedia and turns up online mostly in club lists. But all has changed, changed utterly, thanks to fellow Devonian L.R. Reeve's writings…
|English Team, Commonwealth Games 1958|
F. H. SHAPLAND
I have met a good many busy men in my long life, but cannot believe anyone could be more active than Harold Shapland. Yet he seems to thrive on his multitudinous commitments, and to the world he appears to be one of the happiest men alive, with his ready wit, ready smile and readiness to chat with any bowler who happens to be near him when watching a thrilling encounter.
He must be an exceptionally good organizer to be able to fit in his numerous engagements. I saw him take an ample diary from his pocket one day. It seemed to me when he opened it that at least two pages were full of reminders. But what else does one expect when a man is a successful farmer, was twice a Mayor of Tiverton, an ex-president of the English Bowling Association and an ex-president of the Devon County Bowling Association? And as for various agricultural, urban, rural and bowls committees I am sure if asked, he couldn't immediately answer an inquirer as to the number of committees which claimed him as a member.
It is obvious that engagements sometimes clash. I have known him to be well ahead in a game of singles at the Torquay Bowling Tournament and to withdraw before making a winning shot, thus enabling his opponent to play next day while he himself had to attend a council meeting.
Although he is an international bowler I have never seen him in action for England, but I did see his superb play in a trial match for the country. The trial was held on the Dulwich green at Herne Hill. Harold was in Fred Horn's rink. On one occasion Fred pointed to a certain spot behind the jack and said, "I want one here, Harold." Harold complied by making his wood rest within a yard of the indicated spot. Throughout the trial game he rarely failed to show his form, and in club matches, tournaments and competitions, if he were ever below his usual standard of play I must have been absent, for he was usually as consistent as the dawn chorus of birds on a bright summer’s day.
A few years ago I witnessed his chairmanship in London when he installed a new president at the A. G. M. of the English Bowling Association. He was obviously an experienced controller of meetings, with a wide knowledge of procedure, and the longish agenda progressed to everybody's apparent satisfaction, most questions, appropriate and relevant, were adequately answered; the usual thanks and felicitous comments were forthcoming without any fulsome irrelevance, and I have no recollection of adverse comments after the closure was announced. Altogether a relaxed but business-like meeting.
It is clearly essential for a man living an unusually busy life to get away from it all and indulge in a more relaxed spell of leisure. Harold has recently returned from a bowls tour of Australasia. Even then he had to spend several hours writing articles for the Bowls News, and by doing so he showed us that he is an excellent sports journalist who knows how to interest his fellow bowlers.
At this stage of his life I wonder which past experience gives him the greatest satisfaction. As already suggested, he has held high offices in Agriculture, Local Government, and the Bowling World, Perhaps he himself couldn't answer the question. It is possible his most useful services would be in his last mayoral year, for after one previous year as mayor, his experience would be a very great asset to his last mayoral duties at the Town Hall, but possibly he will have "Worthing" written on his heart, for the World’s Bowling Championship, organized by clever men of genius called forth the claim that the Sussex resort was the best organized tournament previously held in other countries, and one presiding genius was T. H. Shapland.
I felt some local pride when listening to a few of his commentaries during the exciting competitions of the week which evoked a multitude of tributes from all quarters. I am aware that the annual Worthing bowls tournament is organized by a number of shrewd business men, for I have seen their quick-witted decisions on several occasions when~ rainstorms have held up play. Once, we went to play in the first round of the day and found ‘A’ green totally submerged in water. While we were gazing disconsolately at our allotted lake the organizers got busy. In a very short time came an announcement on the loud speaker; "Competitors for A green will now play at the Pavilion Club. Taxis are waiting for them outside the office."
Quick work. The adaptability of local men who annually run England’s greatest tournament is well known, but when competitors from many countries swarm into a town, officers and men are augmented from headquarters of the E.B.A., who [provide] experts in various departments. Hence I can believe that the great Devonian who, as I say, is a supreme organizer, must have been a very gratified man after the superb success of the World's Bowls Tournament.
What memories he must already enjoy! But he hasn't yet finished his story, for I have read that under England's new regional scheme, about to be an accomplished fact, Harold Shapland has been appointed a councillor in his region. So he is going to 'fresh fields and pastures new'. He will be a triumphant success.
I have said he is witty. I still smile at the incident when he was defeated in a singles game at the Madeira, Exmouth, Tournament. "What? You have lost, Mr Shapland?"
"Yes, I lost. I hope to lose a good many more games, yet."
* Found among the papers of the long defunct literary agency Michael Hayes of Cromwell Road S.W.5 - parts of a manuscript memoir by one L.R. Reeve of Newton Abbot, South Devon. Mr Reeve was attempting to get the book (Among those Present: Very Exceptional People) published, but on the evidence of the unused stamp Hayes never replied and L. R. Reeve published the book himself through the esteemed vanity publisher Stockwell two years later in 1974.
*L R Reeve had, in a long life, met or observed a remarkable selection of famous persons. He presents 'vignettes' of 110 persons from all grades of society (many minor or even unknown) they include Winston Churchill, Dorothy Sayers, H H Asquith, John Buchan, the cricketer Jack Hobbs, J.B. Priestley, H.G. Wells, Marconi, E.M. Forster, Duchess of Atholl, Marie Stopes, Oliver Lodge and Cecil Sharp -- 'it is unnecessary to explain that many I have known have not known me. All of them I have seen, most of them I have heard, and some of them have sought information, even advice from me." Reeve states that the unifying qualification all these people have is '… some subtle emanation of personality we call leadership, and which can inspire people to actions unlikely to be undertaken unless prompted by a stronger will."
Reeve was a teacher throughout his life and deputy head of 3 London schools, headmaster of Loughborough emergency schools, ex-president of London Class Teachers Association and very early member of the British Psychological Society (55 years)... I calculate he was probably born in about 1900. His style is markedly unexciting but he has much information unavailable elsewhere.. He sent several typed manuscripts to (from the smell) the chain-smoking agent Hayes…