It is with deepest sadness that I write this obituary for Jon Milner. Jon passed away surrounded by his family on Sunday 24th February. His passing will come as a great shock to all who knew him and on behalf of us all I extend our condolences to Janet, Tom and Sarah.
Jon typified all that was good in the legion of volunteers that have helped British Fencing and Fencing in general over many years. Although Jon was a non- fencer, he became synonymous with competition organiser and excellent organisation. Jon was involved in running the Surrey County Youth Championships each year, giving many young fencers their first taste of a fencing competition. This was no mean feat as he ran 24 competitions in one day. South East Region events and the Leon Paul Team Epee competition held at KCS Wimbledon were also within his remit.
Jon also ran a Saturday morning fencing club at KCS Wimbledon where many future Great Britain Internationals started their fencing careers. This was always a source of pleasure and pride for Jon.
As President of British Fencing I got to know Jon really well, working with him on our Great Britain Cadet and Junior Championships, our Senior British Championships and our FIE World Cups and satellite events. Jon would happily give up hours before, during and after each event to make sure they were a success. Annually we hosted the FIE Eden Cup, Leon Paul Foil Satellite and the FIE Women’s Sabre World Cup at Whitgift and Jon liaised with the school, helped set the venue up, acted as the compere for the finals and generally did anything that was needed to be done. Jon also revolutionised the organisation of the Public Schools’ Fencing Championships. This competition that regularly attracts over 1300 entries had a total overhaul from Jon. It now has a website, automated competition entry, a large team of volunteers to help run the event and results published and sent out to every school. Jon was instrumental here and in addition he liaised with the venue, did the accounts, organised the volunteers, armourers and medical cover. When Crystal Palace National Sports Centre was closed for two years, Jon rallied round and helped us to move the event to Nottingham University and planned how we could use the new venue, accommodation and all the necessary logistics.
In 2009 British Fencing hosted the Cadet and Junior World Championships in Belfast. It is without doubt true, that without Jon this event would never have taken place. He simply worked like a Trojan, ensured the venue was set up, managed the volunteers and was also brilliant at keeping people calm, when it all looked rather dicey. He simply knew that the show had to go on and we were hosting the Fencing World.
My abiding memories of Jon are of someone who simply wanted to help fencing and liked fencers. Nothing was too large or too menial for Jon if it meant that the sport flourished. He encouraged Tom and Sarah in their fencing but was never a pushy fencing parent and even involved Janet in fencing too and was the epitome of the selfless volunteer who never sought the limelight, but who could always be counted on to give of his very best. I also valued the candid advice he would give in a polite, but direct manner.
Fencing is much the poorer for Jon’s passing. Jon was only 64 years old and everyone who encountered him will have their own memories, but we must all be united in the knowledge that we have lost a loyal servant of fencing and a good friend, but that Jon was also a proud father and a loving husband.
May Jon Rest In Peace.
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