The squash fraternity in Yorkshire and around the UK were collectively saddened to hear of the death of Fred Willis, the Yorkshire Evening Post writer, a couple of weeks ago.
Fred wrote the Tuesday column on squash and tennis for years with steadfastness and honesty and his enthusiasm for the subject always showed.
At the end of any major tournament Fred could be relied upon to be waiting at the end of the telephone. Our conversations were always pleasant and I could depend on him to stay true to the words I gave.
Always with the utmost warmth, he gave the impression that he was genuinely interested in any Yorkshire success and indeed, how could he not have been to initiate and carry through this work for 30 years at the YEP?
Far from being solely representational of the professional game, he often covered the Yorkshire League extensively, showcasing a wide range of regional standards in his writing.
It was through Fred that squash was regularly represented in this paper and as a sport we primarily have him to thank for the column inches that squash has enjoyed in this region. My own column would not have existed had it not been for Fred.
In 2009 Fred received an official award from England Squash at the National Championships in Manchester for his services to the sport.
So understated was he that very few people present that day would have known of him or of his efforts on behalf of the sport. It was not his style to be up front, but there was a sense of justification that his efforts were duly acknowledged that day.
as well as writing about the two sports, I understand that he was instrumental in creating the metro league system in Yorkshire which exists and thrives to this day throughout the Leeds area, a fitting legacy to him.
On behalf of everyone involved in Yorkshire Squash, I would like to pass on my thoughts and good wishes to Fred’s family at this very sad time and take the opportunity to salute Fred’s tireless efforts over many years.