"SIMPLY THE BEST" - Boards Windsurfing

Windsurfing Magazine


UK Sailor News



Shirley Tomlinson, World Raceboard Masters Ladies Champion 1993

Shirley Tomlinson, a well known West Midlands windsurfer, lost her third and
final battle against cancer and died peacefully in her own home at Barton -under-
Needwood on Thursday afternoon, 25th April 2002, aged 52 years.

She had started windsurfing with her family at Branston Gravel Pits, over twenty
years ago. She became secretary of Branston Windsurfing Club and competed extensively
in UKBSA West Midlands Division One Events, with growing success. She transferred
to Blithfield Sailing Club where she was a member until recently. Then she began
to compete Nationally with the UKBSA in Division One and attended her first
International Event in January 1990, which was the Division One Worlds in Eilat,
Israel. She finished second to another British lady, Alison Highton.
Later that year she started sailing in the newly formed International Raceboard
Class with great success, She attended the first International Raceboard Europeans
in Westende Belgium. Her successes culminated in her winning the World Raceboard
Ladies Masters title in Puck, Poland in 1993.

In her professional life she was a teacher and in charge of Physical Education
at Abbotsholme Girls School, Staffordshire.

At club level at Blithfield , in the West Midland UKBSA regionally and nationally,
Shirley was a familiar face and a friend off the water to many windsurfers young
and old Her son Nick also attended and competed nationally in the UKBSA.. She
became Ladies National Champion in 1995. She then won her first battle against
cancer and returned to the Inland Nationals and Prize giving in 1997 to be voted
Windsurfer of the Year. She again became Ladies National Champion in 1998. A
second tussle with cancer made her decide to stop competing and windsurf for
leisure only and to take medical retirement from her school. She extended her
racing experience however, by competing on the trimaran Trivial Pursuit at club,
national and international level, attending Cork Week in Ireland in 1998. She
was part of the race management crew on board Trivial Pursuit for the Celtic
Games in Largs 1999. Also she assisted at the British Olympic Trials in April
2000, w! here she celebrated her 50th Birthday. She was Assistant Race Officer
on Trivial Pursuit at the ISAF Youth Worlds Trials in Falmouth in the same year.

She circumnavigated the South of England, on a two month trip in 2000, by coast
and canal. She raced and cruised extensively right up until November last year
when she discovered she was fighting cancer again.

In her perfectionist way, despite her adversity, she then started studying
for her RYA Yachtmaster Day Skipper. If Shirley did a thing, she always did
it well. In her life she had also been a talented folk singer, canoeist, expedition
leader, fitness instructor, tennis player, skier, carpenter, gardener, practitioner
of Reiki, Silk Painter and machine embroiderer. To name but a few! She made
her own range of greeting cards, which many in the windsurfing world received
or bought. Last year, with Liz Robinson and Betty Irwin, the three witches of
windsurfing, she even learnt to Snowboard! Her last skiing and snowboarding
holiday was in January.

She was an independent, multi-talented lady with a friendly word for anybody.
The well known, UKBSA windsurfer, Chris Gibson has commented that anyone felt
better having spoken with her. Past Chairman Mike Keeler remembers her worrying
about what she was wearing when awarded Windsurfer of the Year!

In her final battle she adopted the motto of famous British yachtswoman Ellen
Macarthur, of Vendee Globe Circumnavigation fame.

" A donf " is French slang for " Go for it ".

From the top of the BT Tower in London at a Sargent Children’s Cancer Trust
Reception on Friday 19th April, Shirley’s 52nd birthday, Ellen sent a personal
audio greeting to her. She congratulated her on her accomplishments and wished
her well.

Our sympathy goes out to Barbara and Frank, her mother and father who with
their own illness and advancing years, she had cared for so faithfully. Also
to her sister Sue and children Nick and Kate who have nursed and cared for her
with her neighbours to enable her to have her final days at home.

We will all miss her.

" Simply the Best ".

A Humanist funeral with a Natural Burial will be held at Burton on Trent Cemetery
on Friday 3rd May at 13.00 hrs, to which all are invited. Flowers from family
only. Donations to St Giles Hospice, Whittington, Nr Lichfield


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