Scotsman Obituaries: Jean Calder, international hockey player turned PE lecturer
Even compared to those of the modern jet set, Jean Calder was an incredibly well-travelled person, though many of these early journeys were by sea rather than by air.
Much of this was as a player, umpire or official of the Scottish Women’s Hockey Association. We of the hockey world join in the sadness of Jean’s family, her golf and bridge friends and her neighbours on learning of her recent death, aged 92, following six months which saw her have two falls, necessitating hospitalisation and care. She held on to the hope of a return home but Jean, sadly, succumbed to Covid.
Born in Edinburgh in 1929 and schooled at George Watson’s, she naturally played for Women Watsonians, then East District – a forward before switching to left back in the Scottish team in 1957.
There she played continuously, latterly as Vice-Captain, until deciding to retire from representative hockey on her appointment as Principal Lecturer in Physical Education at the newly established Callendar Park College of Education in Falkirk in 1964. After the threat of college closures, she accepted redundancy in 1978 and turned her attention again to the SWHA.
As well as the annual Home Countries fixtures, Jean had toured in Australia and New Zealand, South Africa, the USA and Canada, Holland, Belgium, France, Germany and Kenya, including the four-yearly International Federation of Women’s Hockey Associations Tournaments in Sydney, Amsterdam and Baltimore, USA.
Turning to administration, Jean became President of the SWHA in 1974 and during her three-year term of office was hostess to the IFWHA Conference and Tournament in Edinburgh in 1975. This two-week event must be a highlight in our history for all involved.
In 1977 she was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Silver Medal in recognition of this undertaking.
The organisation of Scottish Hockey had always been in the hands of unpaid volunteers, with the papers and records (no cups or trophies allowed in those days) passing to the cupboards or under the bed of each incoming President.
It was decided in the early 1980s by the SHA and the SWHA that each would appoint a paid secretary. We rented adjoining offices in Ainslie Place in Edinburgh. The posts were advertised, Jean applied for the SWHA and was duly appointed.
Who could have done better? Who else knew as much about Scottish Hockey? She set to work, gathered our records, sorted and categorised and provided the centre of communication (all in the days before computers). The next step for us was to be amalgamation with the men. The SHA and the SWHA amalgamated in 1989 to become the Scottish Hockey Union.
In 2000 Jean, along with Ernie Wall, Eileen Hyndman and Evlyn Raistrick of the Book Committee, produced 100 Years of Scottish Hockey – a testament to Scottish Hockey, so much of which Jean had been part of.
On retirement Jean enjoyed lots more travel – to Kathmandu and trekking in the Himalayas to celebrate her 60th birthday, several round-the-world trips and visits to many European countries, as well to many different parts of Britain.
Many of these travels were with friends, but latterly she enjoyed cruises with her older sister, Dr Anne Scott, who died in May 2021.
In 1995 Jean returned to South Africa as a GB hockey supporter when SA, in their first event after apartheid, hosted the Olympic Qualifier.
Jean also played golf and bridge and kept fit walking her various dogs. She was physically able and independent right up until six months before her death.
Jean remained single, but in 1965 became guardian to her eight-year-old niece Patricia, who was sent to boarding school in Edinburgh while her parents worked in Pakistan.
Patricia always thought of Jean as her second Mum and her two sons, Robert and David, were also close to their great aunt. They will miss her very much, as will her many friends and neighbours and the congregation of Marchmont St Giles’ Parish Church of Scotland, of which she was a member for many years.
While mourning the loss of a good friend, we celebrate her long and well-lived life.
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