Ulster Hockey is saddened to have lost two stalwarts of the sport over the last week.
Betty Henderson (nee Kyle), passed away peacefully on Thursday 24th November, at the age of 94. Betty had an amazing hockey career which started off at Belfast Royal Academy, where she played on the School’s 1stX1 at the age of 13. A year later she not only played for Ulster Schools but also for the Ulster Senior Ladies Team. Her love of sport took her to Ling Teacher Training College in Dublin. She wasn’t selected by Ulster that year, so attended trials for Leinster and was selected to play for Leinster that season. The following year she was back on the Ulster Team.
Betty was inducted into Hockey Ireland’s Hall of Fame in 2006. During her international career she was a stalwart of the Irish team, winning 26 caps over an eleven-year period from 1948-1959. She was a member of the Triple Crown winning team in 1950 and captained Ireland against South Africa in 1953. Betty was said to be one of the most influential players in Irish hockey in the 1950s.
Our condolences go to Betty’s daughters, Lynne, Jan, Kim and Tanya and to their families at this sad time.
Mr Robert Stevenson MBE, affectionately known as ‘Stevie’, committed his life to sport and contributed much to hockey in Ulster and Ireland, over many decades.
He was an Honorary Life Member of the UWHU and of the UHU. He watched the Senior Schools Cup Final, later known as the Belfast Telegraph Girls Schools Cup Final for over 60 years. He decided that a runners up award was needed in the final and presented his Stevenson Shield, annually and as recently as March 2022. Stevie founded the U18 Girls Interprovincial tournaments with the aim of promoting Irish hockey and he attended these and Kate Russell tournaments annually, until the last few years.
His first love was always Cookstown High School, where he was a teacher of Physics and later the Vice-Principal. As a younger teacher, he was in charge of hockey in the school and later was committed to Girls’ hockey by umpiring, timekeeping and supporting for over 32 years. Margaret Henderson, his colleague at Cookstown High School, said that “a lot of what we achieved was because of his pride in the school and his everlasting and constant encouragement”. He drove pupils, teachers and parents all over Ireland, as well as transporting young players to Ulster and Irish training if they had no transport.
Stevie ‘s pride for the west of the province was evident when he created the West of Ulster League in 1964 to ‘bring hockey to the west’. He never failed to be at the annual 1st XI final to proudly present the medals and his trophy to the finalists and winners.
Stevie was known in hockey circles throughout Ulster and Ireland. He will never be forgotten by those who knew and admired him for his dedication to hockey.
Both Betty and Stevie will be sadly missed and the thoughts of everyone in the Ulster Hockey family are extended to the families and friends of both.