Remembering Rachael Heyhoe Flint

As a youngster with just one parent to navigate me through those choppy waters of adolescence, my dear old man decided that the pen was mightier than the sword.

Rather than dictate the right and wrong way to behave to his lad, he simply gave me a book.

Ironically enough, that Life’s Little Instruction Book by H. Jackson Brown was the only paperback I studied religiously as a teenager (as I opted to dick about with my mates instead of study like my sister).

I still flick through those 500-odd tips on a regular basis. And as Rachael Heyhoe Flint was laid to rest in Wolverhampton today, I can’t help but think it could have been written by her.

‘Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated’ was one pearl of wisdom. Number 33 in fact.

I only met Rachael once, and it was safe to say that she did precisely that. My good mate Paul Robinson, just a kid back in 2006, was returning from his first tour of duty in Basra, Iraq.

I really, really missed him while he was away. More than that, I really, really feared for him every day he’d gone. More than he will probably appreciate.

So when he returned home I wanted to do something for him. As a lifelong Wolves fan himself, I wondered if the club might do something for him to welcome him back. I wrote an email to the club.

And within 5 minutes, Rachael Heyhoe Flint was calling my mobile, no less!

She rolled out the red carpet for Paul for a Friday night league game against Sunderland and left no stone unturned.

Paul and his family arrived with me at the main reception where Rachael was already waiting.

16. Be the first to say hello

6. Have a firm handshake

7. Look people in the eye

128. Remember people’s names

107. Smile a lot. It costs nothing and is beyond price

That was Rachael, causing me to well up with pride for being a Wolves fan at that very moment, whilst simultaneously regressing me back to my youth, when Dad handed me that book.

“Sir Jack has so much time for anyone serving in the Armed Forces, particularly a Wolves fan like Paul, so it would be the least we could do,” she’d say.

Rachael then led us pitchside where Bully was waiting – with a replica shirt she had evidently got the players to sign.

94. Make it a habit to do nice things for people

Again, that was Rachael. As Jenny Wilkes so beautiful paid tribute on Radio WM the other day, she’d have a very persuasive way of getting people to do things, whether they wanted to or not!

So there Bully stood, chatting about his favourite ever Wolves goals (I monopolised the conversation here, with a left footer against Bolton at the North Bank end featuring highly in Div 3.) Rachael, meanwhile, asked about Paul’s life, family, and six month experience in a 40 degree shithole known as Iraq.

133. When someone is relating an important event that’s happened to them, don’t try to stop them with a story of your own. Let them have the stage.

145. Be enthusiastic about the success of others

After meeting the two legends, Paul met another one, as Thommo was thrust in our direction, while injured players were also instructed to meet the main man of the evening – my mate Paul.

287. Promise big. Deliver big.

We adjourned to our seats and watched the game in our bubble of unbridled, fuzzy joy. It was a largely forgettable 1-1 draw featuring an utterly memorable Jemal Johnson 30 yard screamer. But that evening will live with me forever, as one special lady went the extra-mile for a family she’d never met – nor ever meet again.

As was the case with just about everything she put her mind to, Rachael Heyhoe Flint brought so much happiness to people’s lives through her own selfless actions.

274. Leave everything a little better than you found it

God bless xx

Comments

  1. Twixfix says:

    What a wonderful send off for a wonderful Wolverhampton lady.
    St. Peters was full with celebrities from the world of football, cricket, TV, media, and the lucky fans able to bear witness.
    What was said about OUR RACHAEL was frankly incredible and certainly enhanced and cemented my own opinion of the good lady.
    If Rachael wanted something…she just didn’t rest until her plans came to fruition….whatever means , fair or devious she employed.
    To hear that she had raised £7.5 million for various charitable organisations beggars belief and form her humble beginnings of being a PE teacher to a Wulfrunian with OBE, MBE and BARONESS following her name just goes to show the meteoric incredulity of the woman.
    Nice to see also Mike Gatting, Judith Chalmers and Angela Rippon and another Wulfruninian GODDESS…SUZIE PERRY.
    My thoughts go to Rachael’s husband Derrick and family….may you forever light up Wolverhampton like OUR RACHAEL.

    LOVE AND SINCEREST BEST WISHES ON BEHALF OF WOLVES BLOG…

    I wrote this on the previous post and would like to congratulate you Ben on a summary or Rachael that sums the lady to a tee.

    My own lasting memory of Rachael was that many years ago she was my PE teacher at the Grammar school I went to.
    The years rolled on by and one evening function in Sir Jacks in the mid nineties Rachael came up to the table to chat … I spurted out that she used to be one of my Senior School teachers…… she then ..out of complete amazement…remembered me …BY NAME…. well ..she was so interested in me and my career …. it was amazing.
    Rachael must have touched many hearts and achieved what many of us can only dream about…..

    A TRUE WULFRUNIAN, DEVILISH BUT MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE …LOVABLE TO THE CORE….
    YOU WILL BE MISSED…..

       18 likes

  2. Clive from Houston says:

    No further comments necessary.
    Perfect summation, Ben.

       9 likes

  3. Bally says:

    Beautifully put mate, a fitting tribute for a great lady.
    I remember Paul telling me about that night at molineux that she put on for him the one time I met him. She certainly didn’t have to go to the lengths she did off the back of your one email. The world needs more people like her in it.

       12 likes

  4. Yong Lim Singapore says:

    What a lady and I feel a deep sense of loss after reading this from you Ben. Thanks as she is smiling her way to heaven.

       10 likes

  5. CHEESEBURGER OF DEATH says:

    Excellent blog Ben and nicely delivered as usual. Outside of Wolves Rachael was a true pioneer as she became the first woman to be elected to the MCC. Which was no mean feat given that this was a male only club for 200 years. She was said to have to have gained the votes of the members through her gentle arm twisting and sense of humour. Just chatting to people and gaining their support. Always mischievous but certainly no shrinking violet and prepared to stand up for her beliefs. Later she became a member of the House of Lords and continued to campaign for greater recognition of women’s sport. Always with Wolverhampton and Wolves in her heart. Remarkable achievements really. RIP Rachael and I suspect you have already met up with Sir Jack for a chat about the Wolves !

       10 likes

  6. Marney says:

    Very well said
    Taking a few of those ‘ numbers’ fresh in my mind to work with me today , thanks Ben
    Rip Rachael

       7 likes

  7. Absolutely top class tribute, Ben. Fantastic bit of writing that.

       7 likes

  8. Great piece Ben. I want a copy of that book.

       7 likes

  9. Bedford Wolf says:

    Superb blog Ben. The best thing I’ve read on here possibly ever. Well done.

       9 likes

  10. RickRack Wolves says:

    Probably the best bit of writing I’ve read today with nothing that needs adding

    Proud to be a WWFC fan

    Simply put “she’s one of our own”

       8 likes

  11. Exiledwolf says:

    Thanks Ben, very nicely put.

    I met Rachael once in 1969 and regret that our paths never crossed again.

       6 likes

  12. Nicely written and a fitting tribute.

       7 likes

  13. Brompton Wolf says:

    I also am ordering a copy of that book – to give to my grandson when he starts reading. He is only 3 just now, but I am sure he will appreciate it.

    Excellent post Ben. Thanks.

       6 likes

  14. theDOOGooder says:

    I doff my Wolverhampton Wanderers beanie hat to a lovely piece of writing by a lovely bloke about a lovely lady.

    It makes you feel proud and humble to be a fan of a club who put such a character in the position where she could, and did, make such a difference.

    I doubt we’ll see her like again but we can always hope.

    Well said Ben.

    And well done Rachael.

       11 likes

  15. Steppenwolfe says:

    Top class Ben – a lovely tribute and a book I wish I’d been given.

       5 likes

  16. Larry Talbot says:

    What an excellent piece, written from the heart and incredibly touching. I feel that I missed out by not knowing the lady. Rest in Peace Rachael, you were clearly much loved.

       7 likes

  17. StuWolf says:

    Nicely written tribute to a lovely human being.

       5 likes

  18. kiwiwolf says:

    A wonderful tribute to “One of our own”. Thanks Ben

       5 likes

  19. Please unsubscribe me.
    Thanks
    Paul

       0 likes

  20. Rachael and her family touched many people locally. Being a Wolves fan isnt a calling card on national fame and fortune. We are misunderstood but we care.

       5 likes

  21. I never actually met the lady, but after reading your terrific piece Ben, I feel I’ve had the next best thing. Thank you for that. Our club has been blessed over the years with people like Rachael and Sir Jack.

       5 likes

  22. Cotswold Wolf says:

    First met the lady I knew as Miss Heyhoe at my old school The Municipal Grammar when she taught PE and later when she and the Doug opened a golf range where I was working. Friendly with a ready humour. Wolves were lucky to enjoy her participation.

       1 likes

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