Mary was a very unique lady who worked tirelessly and selflessly for small bore shooting in general and the Hampshire Association in particular. The word ’unique’ is not used lightly as almost certainly we will never again see anyone even approaching her tenacity and determination to see the job through no matter what and over such a long period of time.
Mary was elected as Statistics Officer for Hampshire County in 1953 and remained in that post until her passing. This 61 plus years has been a remarkable achievement as, in all but the last few years, it was done without the use of a computer and even in those years it was only the basic scores which were computerized and she always preferred to check the results manually just make sure that the computer got it right.
The other statistic is, that, over the period which she worked for the Association, the other posts held were… County Secretary, County Captain, County Junior Captain and, following the death of her Mother in 1988, she took over the League Match Secretary’s post. In total she completed no less than 214 post/years in the service of Hampshire County and its members. This is believed to be a record the like of which we shall never see again.
Under her Captaincy the County won the Inter County League Division 1 no less than 21 times, the Knockout 17 times, The BSA Cup 4 times and the County Cup for Long Range competition 10 times.
In 1953 she organised the first Annual Association Dinner and Prize Presentation and did this every year until 2013. All trophies, medals etc. were arranged by her though her husband Don was sometimes allowed to help clean the silverware.
In partnership with Don the Outdoor Meetings at Headley Park, Basingstoke and Andover were organised and run by Mary for well over 35 years. Mary did all the marking for both 3P and prone competitions and no-one even dared to challenge the marking. However one day, just to cause a little hilarity, the writer did put £1.00 on the table and challenged one of his 100 yard cards. Mary had marked him down as 196. She retrieved the card and said she could find no fault. He then pointed out the shot way out in the white at which time she knew she had been caught and, with a smile, gave him his £1.00 back. She never forgot and over the years referred to it on several occasions.
Let’s now move on a little………… Mary, not content with administration work also undertook, in no small way, coaching. She was qualified at senior level but delighted in teaching young people, who she knew, as we all do, that they are the future of our sport. From time to time she hired the range at Calshot, as her home range was not always available, and many young people were pleased to be taught by Mary. She also was happy to go to clubs to teach potential Club Coaches. She had a way of putting across knowledge which was very interesting and those taught that way tended to remember her words.
When Don took the position of Club Coach at the Southampton University Mary would always accompany him and when it came to the autumn term there could be up to 200 students who were wishing to try rifle shooting. The commitment was total and following Don’s move into a home Mary took on the job with help from the established students. She only ceased to do this in 2013 at the age of 92.
Mary was one of the first in the UK to be an ISSF ‘A’ licence holder and officiated on many occasions at ISSF events both at home and abroad. She could always be seen at Bisley just prior to the Annual Small-bore Meeting officiating and overseeing the Junior competitions between Great Britain, Denmark, South Africa and others.
During the BIsley Small-Bore week her duties, if we dare call them that, were to be in the Hampshire tent providing refreshments to anyone who cared to come in and she was always interested to know how the Hampshire Competitors were getting on. If you did well enough you could be in the team for the Inter County 50metres competition or the Sextette on the Wednesday or Thursday afternoons. Just how many times Hampshire won these competitions is not to hand but there were many.
In 2007 the County applied to the NSRA to recognise Mary’s achievements and dedication to the sport. She was awarded the Special Service Silver Medal and this was presented to her at the Annual Dinner that year.
Latterly, as husband Don became less able, Mary did not attend Bisley and she was very much missed. She always enquired after the results and her interest never declined.
It is fair to say that her biggest pleasure in shooting was to see Hampshire at the top of the League, winning the Knockout, BSA or County Cup.
Last December the writer got the call which said that Mary wished to see him. She was very frail and aware that she was no longer able to carry out her tasks for the County in the way she would like. The Vice-Captain, David Lumsden, was away in Scotland and so she asked that the writer to assume the County Captaincy pending David’s return. Even then, she stressed that Hampshire shooters were among the best in the country and that he should try to ensure that the County continued that way. There were also 3 Junior teams to be followed and encouraged.
There were several ‘stickers’ which had not been allocated to shooters. It was decided to send these out to current team members. That way any success during the winter season will be entirely due to Mary’s team selection. Thus far Hampshire are second in the League and have just completed round 3 of the Knockout.
As said at the beginning Mary’s story could be written into a book and go on much longer. However, it is a fact that the writer first met Mary 61 years ago, when she was Mary Moore, and considers her to have been the most dedicated person it is possible to meet and was the epitome of all who have ever been involved in Small-Bore shooting. No-one is totally irreplaceable but Mary comes as close as it is possible to be and it will take 5 or 6 others to cover the work which she so ably did for such a very long time.
Thus we come to the end of the Moore/Maiden era which leaves so much for us all to admire and emulate.