Vivien Jones

This is a post to celebrate the life of a remarkable woman. Vivien Jones passed away on 26 December 2010 after an incredible battle against illness. I am hoping I have enough hyperbole to acknowledge and revere Vivien.
I first met Vivien in the late 1970s at St Mary’s College in Strawberry Hill. My wife Sue had known Vivien for much longer. I got off on the wrong foot at our first meeting when I called Vivien ‘Viv’. It was made very clear that Vivien was the proper greeting. Thereafter I worked with Vivien and was in awe of what she achieved as a mum, a lacrosse player and as a cherished friend. In the early 80s I acted as an occasional child minder for Sara and Nicola when Vivien attended the Centre of Excellence organised by my wife Sue.
Sue and I last met Vivien in October 2010. We stayed with Vivien at her beautiful home in Hampton. Typical of her she gave up her own room  for us. We timed our visit to coincide with the Southern Clubs and Colleges Tournament and on a very wet day I was amazed at her energy in supporting Centaurs. To my absolute delight I watched her march on to the pitch at the end of full time to galvanise the team for the golden goal extra time. I wondered then as I had done for almost 30 years how one person could have and share so much passion. I do know that she has proved to be an inspiration for me through all that time.

In 1997 I had the special opportunity to work with Vivien at the Fifth Women’s Lacrosse World Cup in Tokyo. During the preparation for the tournament and in the tournament I had the enormous privilege of working closely with her. What I learned from her during that time I have used in my professional and personal life in ways that I hope she would appreciate.
1997 is linked to 1993. I was at the World Cup in Edinburgh and was videoing the tournament for the Welsh team. On a very, very wet day through a very misty viewfinder I saw Vivien attack in the final minutes against Canada. Her shot at goal was from a long way out but as ever was profoundly astute. The shot hit the crossbar exactly in the middle and could have gone either into the goal to win the game or out to await another opportunity. The ball hit the bar with enormous force and rained a shower of water on the Canadian goalkeeper. The ball spiraled twenty feet into the air with the goal shuddering. I felt that if the bar had not been in the way the ball would have kept travelling from Heriot Watt to Princes Street.
In 1997 I reminded Vivien about that moment and saw it as the bond that tied us to perform in 1997. I would go anywhere to support someone who when they were absolutely exhausted in the most wretched of conditions would front up driven by energy that very few people in the world of sport possess. 1997 turned out to be a most wonderful tournament for Wales. Vivien was at the heart and soul of that success.
What I find really wonderful is that the friendships and love forged there in Tokyo continue to the present. The team had its thirteenth reunion in 2010 and typically the number 13 player in the squad was at the heart of the fun and memories.
Vivien will be missed profoundly. Her joy of life, her unequivocal friendship, her love of her daughters and a once in a lifetime resilience are very special legacies.
She did not go gentle into that good night, her raging against the dying of the light has taught me even more than I imagined possible.
I send my love and sincerest wishes to Vivien’s daughters Sara and Nicola, to John and Vivien’s family. Vivien will be with us all as long as we have memories and stories to tell.

The Guardian published an obituary for Vivien on 23 January. Gill Phillips wrote a very sensitive account of Vivien’s remarkable life.


  1. Keith What a wonderful tribute to indeed a very special woman and friend. What happened in 1997 was special and all we have to do is catch each other’s eyes to know that, it will always remain a treasured memory. One with Vivien at the heart of it. Words do not even need to be spoken just to know how privilaged we all are to have know her. A true “star was born” in Vivien. Love Jules

    • Jules
      I am delighted you found this post. Thank you for writing so eloquently about Vivien. I am so sorry that Sue and I are not with you on Tuesday.
      Best wishes

  2. Keith
    What a wonderful tribute. She was indeed an incredible woman, lacrosse player and friend. Thank you for taking the time to write this blog on behalf of all her family and friends. She should indeed be recognised around the world. She is a true legend and always will be . I met you briefly in October at the Centaurs game; and she really did make the difference to the golden goal result! I know Vivien was thrilled and proud to have such longstanding friends in Sue and yourself, for making the time and effort to visit her. Thank you and sorry you won’t be there on Tuesday but we know you will be there in spirt

    • Vic
      Thank you for finding this post. I am delighted we met in October. We are so sorry not to be there on Tuesday.
      Best wishes

  3. Hi Keith,
    Thank you so much for writing such a wonderful tribute. I have been finding it so hard to put in to words what an amazing woman she was and what an impact she had on everyone that she met. It was such a special team in 97, one that feels like a family – and she is leaving behind a gaping hole. I felt incredibly lucky and honoured to be part of it, and to be able to call her my friend. I think that your blog speaks for everyone – and whilst it was sad to read it, I feel that it is just a perfect summation of a wonderful life. So thank you for doing it.

    • Marie
      Thank you for finding the post. There is a Vivien sized hole in the universe. We will be thinking about you all on Tuesday and have a quiet, contemplative day here in Australia.
      Best wishes

  4. Keith
    It was such a privelege to know her and this is a such a lovely tribute. I too met her at St Mary’s but I was a very impressionable 18 year old and I am so lucky to have known her.
    Best Wishes

    • Jo
      I am delighted you found this post. With Vivien we were all forever 18 and impressionable. She had the most wonderful effect on our spirits.
      Best wishes

  5. Keith as ever in your very clever way, you have captured the essence of Vivien. I was there in 93 and again in 2001 and with Vivien at Putney. In fact Vivien was always there during my lacrosse years. I remember in 92 after going to Japan and then Australia on tour I was feeling pretty low but she managed to inspire by writing to each and every team member a letter to encourage. Sorry not to have seen you in October.
    With kind regards

    • Nicky
      Thank you for finding the post and writing a response. Vivien was a wonderful guide, mentor and friend. It was great that you played with her for so long. We will have a family day on Tuesday. Sue, Beth, Sam and I have been talking a great deal about Vivien and hope that Tuesday in England is a great celebration.
      Best wishes

  6. Dear Keith
    I so enjoyed reading your tribute. Thank you for sharing your memories in this way as it helps us move forward into celebrating the life of an extraordinary person. Vivien certainly left her mark on this world. We are all richer for having known her.
    Tuesday will be such a sad day especially as we cannot be there amongst friends and family. There will be quiet contemplation and reflection in many corners of the world, this one included.
    With love to you Sue and the family.

    • Thank you for writing, Jane. It is wonderful that we can celebrate together. You have a very long link with Vivien and I imagine the last few weeks have been tough.
      Best wishes

  7. Keith, you truly have a wonderful way with words and have managed to sum Vivien up so well. She was a truly amazing, inspirational and supportive person. We, who knew her will miss her so much but the legend that was Vivien will live on for ever in our hearts. She touched and changed for the better the lives of the people she met, I am so honoured to call her my friend. I will be thinking of you, Sue, Beth and Sam too on Tuesday.
    Best wishes Jan

  8. Keith, thank you. I remember getting told off for using Viv too, and one of the infamous BBSs (bullet blue stares!) that reflected all her inner strength and passion but could be a bit scary at times. Incredible that she is still uniting people across the world.
    Love to you, Sue, Beth & Sam
    Gill x

    • Gill
      How wonderful to hear from you and share BBS memories. I agree about the scary bit too!
      Warmest wishes to you all

  9. Hi Keith – So wonderful to read your words tonight. I would love to be able to add to your amazing piece but it is wonderful and from the heart. Vivien has inspired us all for many years and will continue to do so for many years to come I think.
    My love to you all and do get in touch if y ou ever have a spare moment when you are next in the UK.
    Love Davida x

    • Davida
      I am so delighted you found this post. You are part of Vivien’s story so her story continues through you.
      We are thinking about you all today.
      Best wishes

  10. I was sad to read Vivien’s obituary in The Times . She was a colleague at the Lady Eleanor Holles School and I taught Sara Maths at some stage. Wonderful achievement for mother and daughter to play in the same national team……


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