Monday, September 12th, 2016

Rhodes And Reverend Vockins In Glowing Tribute To Ken Mills Mbe

Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes and former Club Secretary-CEO Michael Vockins – now the Reverend Prebendary Vockins – today paid glowing tributes to late Supporters' Association chairman Ken Mills MBE for whom a moving Thanksgiving Service was held this afternoon in St. John's Church.

Ken was Association chairman for more than 40 years before sadly passing away two weeks ago at the age of 77 after a long battle against illness.

A private family-only service took place at Worcester Crematorium at 1pm before the Service of Thanksgiving taken by the Reverend Vockins who was the County's Secretary-CEO for over 30 years.

Past players and club officials, members and supporters paid their respects to Ken who already has a stand at New Road named after himself and his late wife Pat who was secretary of the Association for many decades.

Phil Neale, who skippered Worcestershire during their golden era from 1982 to 1991, delivered the reading of Romans 8, verses 31 to 39.

Neale was amongst a host of former players who attended the service including Doug Slade, Duncan Fearnley, John Inchmore, Richard Illingworth, David Leatherdale, John Elliott and Alan Ormrod as well as current officials including CEO Tom Scott and Catering Director Steve Gibbs.

Rhodes – nor any of the current first team players – were unable to attend the Thanksgiving Service as Worcestershire were in action today at Hove.

But the former England keeper was keen to highlight the significance of Ken's contribution to the County Cricket Club.

He said: "The thoughts of all of us are very much with Ken's family today. Ken is an icon of the club.

"The time and effort and money he has raised through the Supporters' Association has been terrific and people like Ken will be missed.

"We ought to all be grateful for all the efforts Ken and Pat (Mills) put in over many years to Worcestershire cricket.

"He will be missed and I'm very proud to have known him very well.

"I saw him not too long before he died and we had a little laugh talking about some of the memories of some of the times when I was a young player and a cheeky little chappie, a bit like a Clarkey (Joe Clarke) type of person, and some of the things we got up to.

"Ken remembered them well and it was nice to see him with a smile on his face at a time when he was suffering and it was nice to cheer him up slightly at a tough time."

The Reverend Vockins gave a detailed and entertaining account in his address of Ken's life from the days when he was a choirboy in Exeter Cathedral through to when he was employed at the Ministry of Agriculture and met wife Pat and his eventual love affair for Worcestershire cricket and work with the Supporters' Association.

Vockins highlighted the significance of Ken – and Pat's – contribution to the County Cricket Club via the Association which he described as "quite a remarkable degree of service and no wonder the club has now the stand named in their honour."

He added: "Under their stewardship, coach trips to away games and cup finals were extremely popular, the Fifty-Fifty competition began, scholarships and awards were introduced so that young players could get more experience and often had the chance to go abroad.

"The Supporters' Association did much to support the club at key times. Perhaps history will say Ken's greatest contribution was encouraging the Association to donate to the club a significant amount of money which enabled the club to purchase the County Ground in 1977.

"That purchase of the ground gave the club real confidence to expand from summertime activity into a all the year around organisation.

"It enabled the club to strengthen the team and that led to the most successful era in the club's history."

After the service, refreshments were available at Worcestershire County Cricket when many memories of Ken were exchanged.