The voice of the Yonex All England Championships has fallen silent. John Gowers, who year after year announced the world’s best players on to court, has passed away.
Badminton fans from all over the world may not have known Gowers personally but they knew the clear, calm voice that announced the arrival of great names like Peter Gade, Taufik Hidayat or Susi Susanti into the arena.
However, he was more than just the announcer – much more. At BADMINTON England he was tournament and county liaison officer; a role which required him to process tournament entries, big or small, and to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of tournament rules.
His badminton involvement began, like so many parents, ferrying his daughter Gillian from one junior tournament to another. It was worth it as Gillian developed into a fine, all-round player who won 123 England caps and was an All England runner-up in Mixed Doubles (with Nigel Tier) in 1984 and Women’s Doubles in 1990 (with Gillian Clark).
BADMINTON England President Geoff Rofe said: "John was a talented and long-serving badminton administrator and umpire. His services to our sport were rewarded when he was presented with the English Badminton Award in 2009.
"But he was more than just an administrator. He was a real hard worker and was universally popular. He was one of those rare people who was liked by everyone who met him – and he met many (persons) through all his work at tournaments up and down the country."
Torsten Berg, BWF Vice President and Chairman of the Technical Officials Commission, also paid tribute, saying: "International badminton mourns the loss of John Gowers, a stalwart of the All England and a lifelong servant of our game.
“John will be remembered for his always solid and reliable preparation, his positive approach to solve any issues arising and not least as a good teacher for the next generation of officials."
BADMINTON England's Events Operations Manager Chris Miller said: "John Gowers was, for many, the man behind the golden voice at the Yonex All England Championships, announcing countless champions and legends on to court.
"I can recall England player Andy Ellis saying a few years ago that he wanted to compete in the All England just to hear John announce him on to court.
"Away from the spotlight, John was a man of integrity, tradition and high standards, and absolutely dedicated to badminton.
“Our thoughts are with his children – Gillian and Stephen – and their family at this sad time.”
Article and photo by BADMINTON England.