Tributes > Jeremy Burford QC (1942-2011)
JEREMY BURFORD QC (1942-2011) who died on March 10th 2011
Recollections of Jeremy by Michael de Navarro (from the funeral eulogy)
I first met Jeremy when he came to Cambridge in 1964. From then on we were very closely associated for many years, initially through the Cambridge Union Society and then through the Cricket Society. In recent years our paths separated to some extent although we kept in touch through the Sundowners and because he was my younger daughter Fran's godfather. I last saw him about 2 weeks before he died. I have known him as a friend for 47 years.
In preparing these recollections, I have had inputs from a great number of Jeremy's friends and colleagues. Time does not permit me to use them all. I will acknowledge contributors as I go along.
His Honour Judge Jeremy Michael Joseph Burford QC was born in England on 3rd June 1942, but was brought up in South Africa. He attended Rondelbosch and then Bishops Diocesan College School, a multi racial school (it was before Apartheid), to do post matric as he was too young to go to University. Already while at school he excelled at debating. A contemporary at school was Chris Danziger, who also moved to England and who was also to play for the Cricket Society. Jeremy was later godfather to Chris' daughter too.
After school, Jeremy went to Cape Town University, reading law and obtaining his BA and was awarded a Duke of Edinburgh scholarship to Cambridge where he took a MA in law. He was a keen sportsman representing his College, Emmanuel, at various sports including cricket and hockey. Within a year he had been elected President of the Cambridge Union Society for the Michaelmas term 1965. It was through the Union that I met him, as I was Secretary when he was President. That and our common interest in sport made for a lasting friendship.
After Cambridge, Jeremy was awarded one of the first Kennedy scholarships to go to Harvard. Shortly before he left for America, he was struck on the knee by a hockey ball. Unfortunately, while he was in America, the resulting lump was diagnosed as malignant, and his leg was amputated above the knee. He never the less completed a successful year in Harvard. A highlight of the year was staying with the Kennedy family at Hyannis Port. Some years later Teddy Kennedy's son, Ted Jr also had to have a leg amputated and Jeremy was a great support to the family, giving them comfort from his own experience
On his return to the UK, Jeremy took Bar Finals and was called to the Bar in Inner Temple in 1968. After pupillage, he became a tenant in Mitre Court Buildings in the Chambers of Sir Joseph Molony QC.
Jeremy became a very successful advocate at large planning enquiries, including enquiries into Heathrow and Stansted airports and many enquiries involving proposals for new supermarkets. He took silk in 1987. However, although very successful, he did not enjoy the work, and he became a Circuit Judge on the Western Circuit in 1993. For the next 17 years he sat as a Circuit Judge in Hampshire, at Winchester and latterly at Southampton until, towards the end of last year, illness made it impossible for him to continue. Unlike his time at the Bar, Jeremy greatly enjoyed sitting as a Judge, to the extent that the 'black dog', as Churchill called it, which beset him after the loss of his leg, went into remission. These years were, he was to tell me, the happiest of his professional life.
He was much admired on the circuit. After hearing of his death, Judge Gary Burrell, QC sitting at Southampton Crown Court said 'Judge Burford was extremely well regarded by all his brother judges and court staff alike. He was an extremely intelligent man with a witty and nicely ironic sense of humour. He was bright, determined and in the latter stages of his illness an enormously brave man. He will be sorely missed here.' Richard Onslow, speaking on behalf of the Bar, said: 'Appearing before Judge Burford was a continuing education. We shall miss him.' Nigel Lickley QC, Leader of the Western Circuit told me that 'I last saw Jeremy a week before he died. Although looking frail he was as ever charming, witty and complementary beyond justification.' Nigel, himself a fine cricketer, asked me to convey the Circuit's sadness at the loss of Jeremy.
In addition to his legal career, the other great achievement of Jeremy's public life was his contribution to cricket and in particular to the Cricket Society XI. Despite the loss of his leg, he continued to play. He almost invariably fielded at first slip and was a stubborn occupier of the crease. Of course he had to bat with a runner. Strictly, the Laws only permit a batsman to have a runner if he is injured during the match, but, quite rightly, no opposition captain ever took the point.
I am indebted to Peter Hartland, the Society XI's historian, for the following statistics: Jeremy played 310 times for the Society XI between 1963 and 1992. Only four men have appeared in more matches. During that time he scored 1,703 runs at a modest average, but those runs included two 50s. The first was 51 v Southborough in May 1976. Opening the batting, he was last man out in a total of 156 all out. Jeremy faced 159 balls and the innings lasted 146 minutes. The second 50, and his highest score, was 87 against the Cricket Society Colts at Brett's Ground in Canterbury in August 1980, when he added 147 for the first wicket with Ron Paterson, now the Society captain. I remember the day well as it was a blazing hot day and having run for him for 2 hours before lunch, I persuaded Ron, who had by then been dismissed, to take over after lunch, as I was exhausted.
Far greater than his contribution to the Society XI on the field, was his contribution off it. From 1969 to 1985 he was Fixture Secretary, in the early years performing the duties of Treasurer and Team Secretary as well, before I took over as Team Secretary and John Kershaw became Treasurer in 1975. Jeremy did much to raise the profile of the Society XI. When he took over, the XI had about a dozen games a year largely against village sides of no great standard. During his period as Fixture Secretary that grew to 30-35 games a year and sometimes more, including regular games against leading club sides such as the Hurlingham Club, Finchley, St Lawrence and Highland Court, Blackheath, Kew, Bath and Hursley Park and foreign tours to North Wales and the Isle of Wight (well, they are almost foreign), Corfu, Philadelphia and Barbados. To achieve this, required more and better players, so Jeremy recruited them, initially mainly from old Cambridge friends and later from his contacts overseas, particularly in Australia. Many of those, including Kevan Carroll, Richard Guy and Ken Guy of LBC fame (all of whom have asked me to mention their great affection, and admiration, for Jeremy), he put up as guests at St Peter's Square. Other distinguished players, such as the former West Indies Test Player Reg Scarlett (who also sends messages from Grenada), joined, as did the Kirton brothers from Barbados, many more from Australia including the broadcasters Peter Mears and Gordon Bray, and many from opposition teams. But at the same time, the old village fixtures remained and so did the less talented players and the charm of the Society XI was its ability, generally, to put out sides appropriate to the opposition. What bound us together was Jeremy's infectious enthusiasm and his profound knowledge of, and love for, the game.
As a result of the tours to Corfu, Jeremy became Secretary of Anglo-Corfiot Cricket Association and was responsible for having the Laws of Cricket translated into Greek.
In addition to these many public achievements, Jeremy privately (and almost secretly) used much of the money he had made at the Bar to help youngsters from South Africa and elsewhere to achieve a good education and a start in life.
On a lighter note, he was a renowned barracker, although the barracking did not always have the intended results. John Douglas reminded me of a game at Ventnor in which a Society batsman was hanging on gamely to save a match on a wet, green and lively wicket. This was not an unusual situation but on this occasion the bowler, recently of County experience and rather quick, had been irritated into 'going round the wicket' and rediscovering bodyline tactics. This resulted in him hitting the batsman several times. After a particularly nasty blow to the ribs, a well known voice boomed out in the batsman's defence. 'This is disgraceful - pitch the ball up. You should be ashamed of yourself!' The old pro looked somewhat embarrassed and took the advice, whereupon the battered batsman was out caught behind next ball.
Ken Guy has reminded me of a couple of other barracking stories. Ken wrote 'On one occasion we sat together in a grandstand at Edgbaston watching the first day's play of an England - Australia Ashes Test. England's captain, Mike Denness was under intense pressure to relinquish his post. As he walked off the field, after being dismissed, Jeremy suddenly shouted, 'Resign Sir, and make way for a leader!' On another occasion, Jeremy had taken me to stand in the outer at Twickenham to watch an England v Ireland Rugby game. As the game progressed he began shouting, 'Come on England you can do it, send your opponents back to Long Kesh!' (This was during the troubles and Long Kesh was a notorious interment camp for IRA prisoners outside Belfast). I looked around and ALL the spectators within sight had on overcoats, cloth hats and GREEN rosettes on their lapels! Being only 5 feet 8, and a born coward, I told him if he didn't desist I was off before a spectator war broke out!'
Both Tim Lowry and I vividly remember one of the last times Jeremy went to Lords, before resigning his MCC membership over some now forgotten iniquity of the Committee. It was 1994, two years after South Africa were readmitted to test cricket and the first time that they had toured England since readmission. It was the fourth day of the Test. We were all sitting in the top deck of the Warner stand. South Africa, who were already over 370 ahead overnight, batted on for a further 2 hours or so on the fourth morning. Tim and I differ in our recollections as to what piece of perceived negative cricket set Jeremy off, whether he thought that South Africa were batting on for too long or because of the initial bowling tactics adopted after the declaration finally came, but what we both remember clearly is that he stood up and began to abuse the South African captain, Kepler Wessels, in fluent Afrikaans so loudly that all in the ground could hear him. The general thrust was that South Africa must play positively if they were to win. Shortly afterwards, England were bowled out for 99, leaving South Africa victors by 356 runs.
I shall pause there as I know that Tim will take up the story after 1990. I would like to end with words from former Cricket Society captains Richard Hall and John Douglas., which say it all. Richard wrote 'Jeremy was someone with a keen eye for real talent and an absurd disregard for disasters. I've never come across a kinder man.....nor one with such a love of words. He was a treasure.'
John wrote 'From a Cricket Society perspective Jeremy was simply an unsung hero. An enthusiast, motivator, enabler, entertainer, storyteller and sometimes outspoken opponent of behavioural or technical faults in sport and its participants. Generous of spirit, I shall miss our all too few meetings of recent years greatly, but the memories are there and he occupies one of the first places in my all time life XI.'
I would just add this. It was a privilege to have known such a fine man. We shall miss him. His death diminishes us all and we offer our profound sympathy to Tulay and Deniz and his sister Lynn and the rest of his family, on their loss.
Michael de Navarro