Congratulations to Richard for 40 years of friendship and brotherhood – 22 May 2018
On 23 May 1978, Richard Dillon was admitted to membership of the Mansfield and Dukeries Circle, having been, in his own words, “chased by Eugene Lee for some time previously”. It was his good friend David Shelley who had finally persuaded him to take the plunge, despite some minor reservations on Richard’s part.
Since then, Richard’s contribution to the life of the Association has been second to none. He has been Circle President four times (firstly in 1988/89 and then three years in a row from 2003 to 2006). Following his last year as President, he became Provincial President for Province 15 and was invited to become Director, though he felt he needed a rest at that point and declined the offer.
In between, he has distinguished himself in a number of other ways. For the last 29 years, he has organised the Circle’s Annual Clergy Night and has always managed to draw in a large number of the priests and Deacons from across the area, including the various Bishops in some years. He was also commissioned to set up and run the Province 15 Catholic Schools’ Public Speaking Contest which was inaugurated in 2008 to mark the centenary of the Association; since then he has contributed as Chairman and as a committee member since stepping down after an extremely successful 10 years in the role.
He has been a member of the Circle Council for so long that nobody (including himself) can remember when he first contributed. He has represented the Circle as Provincial Councillor (prior to becoming Provincial President) and has been the Circle Membership Officer on several occasions. In that role, he has successfully recruited many of the current brothers. For the last four or five years he has also organised the Pub Lunch which has been a great success and draws in very good numbers on the third Tuesday of each month, when we visit local eating places with both a good reputation for food and some excellent local ales.
From humble beginnings (as he has insisted many times in conversation) Richard became a career police officer who began as a Constable and worked his way up the ranks to Chief Superintendent and Commander in charge of Nottingham City, having served in his home town of Mansfield as Inspector. Along the way he was chosen for senior training at The Police Staff College, Bramshill which was, until its sale in 2015, the premier Police College for the United Kingdom. It is there that Richard honed his skills in organisation and management; as a Circle, we have benefitted from his efficiency and clear-thinking over the years and his ability to make people feel at ease, skills he acquired while rubbing shoulders with the great and the good including Joe McNally of Sheffield Hallamshire Circle, a former Grand President of this Association. He remembers with some fondness the happy times he spent as a Traffic Officer on patrol along the by-ways of Nottinghamshire and has a few hairy tales to tell of speeds achieved along empty stretches of the A1 when speed limits were not restricted. He also has tales of gruesome finds from his attachment to the Police Divers squad, but they are probably best glossed over here.
At the Ladies’ Night following our Circle meeting, various tributes to Richard were read out by members of Circle Council:
- A special message from David and Moyra Shelley gave some of the background to Richard’s 40 years in the Association, with an emphasis on the deep and lasting friendship that they have experienced from both Richard and Jenny over those years.
- Thanks were received from Bro David Rowley, former Grand President of the Association, who thanked Richard for all his hard work in leading the Public Speaking Contest committee and for all his contributions to both the life of the Circle and the Association; David particularly mentioned that, in his view, the Circle Clergy Night is the best in the country.
- Notes of congratulations were also received from Director David Baldam, who is undertaking the Camino in Spain, and from Hervé Poveda, who was unable to attend due to a work commitment overseas.
- On behalf of the Ladies, Jo Murphy spoke of the kindness that Richard has shown to her and her family over the many years that she has known him, but especially since the loss of her husband John 10 years ago. She paid tribute to Richard’s caring nature and the fact that he is always one of the first Catenians to ensure that the widows from our Circle are being looked after and are happy at Circle events.
- Last, but not least, Peter Crowe paid tribute to the unstinting support that Richard’s wife Jenny has given him all these years. Her vital contributions are often cloaked but we all appreciate that she is the one who ensures that the table plans will work in terms of who sits with who, and that our place cards are beautifully handwritten (including meal choices on the reverse). She has been a stalwart in all of Richard’s offices and has represented the best that the Ladies Group, of which she is a founder member, contributes to the life of Mansfield and Dukeries Circle.
When it came to his response, for once, Richard seemed lost for words! He recalled how he had first resisted Eugene’s invitations and why he felt that he had been singled out for membership – he had been taught by Eugene and was part of his football team, playing for Mansfield Boys’ team and scoring in the first floodlit game at The Stags’ ground, his “second home”. He reflected on the times he had attended Circle meetings but had kept in touch with the progress of matches via special text links with other brothers who were in attendance. He also reminded those assembled of the nights at The White Post, which often finished late into the night (or early morning), and after which they needed to evade the police in order to avoid getting caught “drunk in charge”; Richard’s theory is that one reason for getting a police officer into the Circle was to have some insurance in that event! He also reminded us that Morgan McSwiney (another distinguished Catenian) was the local Police Surgeon, so it may not have come to that after all.
Richard thanked everyone for their kindness and then, for all her contributions and support, presented Jenny with a lovely bouquet.