Beverly Nicholas Tribute by Husband and Chairman of Batley Bull Dogs Kevin Nicholas 2019
I met Beverley in March 1993 when she lived and worked as a detective in Manchester where she was born. She was 34 years old and had never been to a rugby league game, but I soon rectified that! Almost as soon as we met, she accepted my invitation to a game and immediately took to the sport. At that time there was no Bede Family Stand but instead some terracing at the top end and a Pie hut run by Nellie Earnshaw and Kath Harwood. At her first game I treated her to pork pie and peas with mint sauce as even then I was generous to a fault. She had never had a heated pork pie and thought mint sauce was only to put on lamb in a Sunday roast, so this made a lasting impression on her as over the years she told this tale many times. The game also made an impression as straight away she began coming with me to all games home and away unless she was working. She has therefore been a Bulldogs supporter for over 25 years in fact before we were known as the Bulldogs.
We got on well together immediately and I knew she was the one so I proposed, and we set our wedding date as 26th May 1995. We could not decide on a honeymoon destination between a Safari (my choice) and a Caribbean Cruise (her choice) so at the following home game on the then Long Stand terrace our best man Paul Harrington tossed a coin at halftime and a Cruise it was. Lost again! I don’t believe we missed a game due to our honeymoon as summer rugby had not arrived. Result.
In 1996 Trevor Hobson had taken over as Chairman and the Club was going downhill very fast in my eyes. I believed we were being run down to merge with Dewsbury and something had to be done. I was on friendly terms with Ron and Andy who had shares and I heard another director Trevor Heylings was planning emigrating to Australia and selling his shares in the Club so with his shares we could get a majority to take over. Beverley did not really want me to get that involved with the Club as we now had a 1-year old daughter and a solicitors business to run but she said that if I didn’t try to do something I would regret it all my life and as she couldn’t face me constantly moaning she reluctantly encouraged me. I met with Trevor and verbally agreed to buy his shares then I read in the League Express he was selling to Trevor Hobson which I thought was just gossip and wrong. This was a pivotal moment as that night Beverley pestered me relentlessly to ring Martin Sadler to check the story which I refused to believe. I eventually did as I was told only to have it confirmed indeed that Trevor had changed his mind and told Martin he was selling to Hobson. Beverley stepped up again and insisted I immediately ring Trevor Heylings and arrange to meet him the next day with cash and a document to sign so he couldn’t again change his mind. Again, I did as I was told by her and the deal was done. Without Beverley pressuring me on that crucial day I would have failed, and I believe the Club would not be here as we were soon to find out the club had £440,000 debts and 23 court proceedings against it. Then over the next few years it took to resolve Beverley was always there to support me although she also did moan a lot with me due to the intense pressures involved.
Once we took over then included in ground improvements was the creation of the Bulldog Bar under the now Glen Tomlinson Stand. Initially we had bar staff but then after a couple of years we did not, and I asked Beverley if she would step in and run the bar only until we got a replacement which I said maybe for 2 games at the most. She had never worked behind a bar and wasn’t that enthusiastic but as Alexandra was now a toddler and played with other kids at games she agreed. Also, I think she liked the idea of being in charge! Anyway, she took to it immediately and loved it as she loved talking to people and continued with Brian. and Cath to run the bar for the next 18 or so years and not once took a wage. She loved working with Brian and Cath and said they were a great team which they are. She wanted players, their families, supporters both home and away along with officials to all feel welcome at the Club and that is what she successfully achieved. I should also add that over the last almost 22 years that we have run the Club our wives including of course Beverley have been instrumental in every way in achieving our successes and helping us through our failures. The directors appear to run the Club on paper but without our wives input we would have failed and for that I am truly grateful as indeed supporters should be. Having said that Beverley did not need telling as she knew that and occasionally reminded me!
Beverley first got Breast Cancer in 2008 and went through gruelling treatment especially in 2008 and 2009 before being given the all clear. During this time apart from the odd occasion she never missed work at my office or behind the bar which was truly remarkable. In January 2014 we were watching cricket on tv when it was the last test of the Ashes when we got whitewashed. It was played in Sydney and it was the test where Glen McGrath has a Pink Day to raise money and awareness for Breast Cancer as his wife died from the disease. Spectators were wearing Pink. Beverley suddenly said we need to have a Pink match at Batley. I said that people in Batley wouldn’t wear Pink and how could we raise money as a bucket collection would be lucky if it raised a couple of hundred quid. That was the challenge she needed and thrived on. Without any hesitation she said” Well we’re doing it. Have you any objection?” Clearly, I couldn’t say no but probably said “Whatever!” Then I think I turned the tv off as we were so bad at cricket that day. Over the next few months she started to put everything into place, and it wasn’t about a bucket collection but was about getting everybody at the Club involved in an event. Before you knew it, we had a special pink playing kit fully sponsored and other fundraisers happening. The secret seemed to be bits of money here and there which all added up. In the first year in 2014 the Pink Weekend raised a mind boggling £9000. It was here to stay, and Beverley had proved me wrong and sadly not for the first or last time.
In March 2017 totally out of the blue we learnt that her Breast Cancer had returned now in her liver. She was not ill at the time but now we were told it could not be cured but could be controlled but with chemotherapy. She then had almost 2 years of almost constant chemotherapy but just got on with it despite the difficulties which I can assure you were considerable. She did not seek sympathy but just valued life and tried to remain positive which certainly helped her keep it at bay for so long. Sadly on our 24th wedding anniversary on 26th May this cruel disease finally conquered her body but it never conquered her spirit.
Beverley was ill in hospital in February 2019 with an infection but her Pink Ball was on the Friday of that week. She told the doctors in no uncertain terms she was going to the Ball. Her immune system was dangerously low and being in any group of people was a big risk, but she promised them that if she felt in anyway unwell, she would return to the hospital that same night. She went to the Ball and did not have to go back to hospital although like Cinderella she had to get home before the clock struck 12. She witnessed a complete success when we raised over £7,000 followed by Alexandra raising over £4,000 in a Pink Erg (rowing machine) 100k Challenge which she also went to Durham to witness again despite her faltering health. These along with other fundraisers made her feel confident we could raise a record £29,000 this year to reach our £100,000 target.
Of everything she has done in her life other than looking after me for 26 years this is undoubtedly her great legacy and as Alexandra takes over the organisation from her mother I would like our event from now on to be known as “ Beverley’s Pink Weekend” as that would be a great honour to her and indeed our family who are so proud of her.