A full life of sports and pilgrimages

MAN OF MANY TALENTS: David Boyd wearing the shirt he was presented with when representing South Africa at the world croquet championships Picture: BOB FORD

MOST people are content with going for a walk in a park or along the beach.

But this is not the case of Settlers Park resident David Boyd, who undertook the challenging and well-known Camino walk in Spain on no fewer than five occasions. The longest of these covered a distance of 470km.

This came about when Boyd and his late wife were in a doctor’s surgery paging through a magazine when they came across a page advertising this famous walk. “This caught our imagination and we decided there and then to tackle this,” he said.

He went on to explain that more than 100 000 people from all over the world have undertaken this popular event.

His first two Camino walks he did with his wife, starting from Puedla de Sanabria to Santiago de Contostela. This covered a distance of some 250km and took about 14 days to complete. Not satisfied with this, Boyd went on to undertake the more taxing 470km walk on his own from Salamanca to Santiago de Contostela. This took some 26 days to complete.

He explained that these distance were divided into stages covered each day and the toughest was when the walkers climbed 400m in only 14km.

He has five certificates proudly hanging in his home as proof of these achievements.

Born in Sunderland in County Durham, England, Boyd completed his education at the University of Manchester in 1963 with a BSc degree in textile chemistry and was employed in the textile industry all his working life. His first job was in a mill in Sidbury, Suffolk, but his desire was to work abroad. His opportunity came when he applied for and got a job in Bogata in Colombia, South America. Here he struck his first difficulty as all the people on the shop floor he managed only spoke Spanish. “So I spent the next six months with a small Spanish dictionary in my left hand. It was frustrating, but I had no option. You have to force yourself to think in Spanish and eventually I became fluent after about nine months. It’s a beautiful language and it was a joy to be able to speak it when we went on our walks years later,” he added. He is still fluent in Spanish.

Meanwhile, Boyd had met his future wife, Mary, and she joined him in Spain, where she taught English at a language school. After seven years, the couple returned to England, where they bought a house and attempted to settle in their new environment. But the couple were not happy and Boyd accepted a job offer in Pretoria in 1973.

After three years in Pretoria, the couple moved to Durban for two years and then on to East London. From here he commuted to King William’s Town, where he worked in a textile factory until he retired. They then moved to Settlers Park in Port Alfred in 2006.

During their stay in Durban, Boyd was at a loose end and decided to take up cricket umpiring in his spare time. He soon rose up in the ranks during the 25 years that he did this and was on the first class panel for about four years. This involved umpiring in Currie Cup matches, which took him to all parts of the country. His only regret was that he never “stood” in a match at the famous Newlands ground in Cape Town.

He umpired in matches involving famous cricketers such as the late Hansie Cronje, the Kirsten brothers, Peter and Gary, Kepler Wessels and the well-known New Zealander, Ken Rutherford, during a spell in South Africa.

Boyd’s greatest achievements came in the sport of croquet. While in East London, he joined the local club in 2003 and soon showed his talent for this when he won both the open and handicap singles as well as the doubles open and handicap titles. A year later, his club hosted the national tournament, where he won the handicap singles.

In 2005, Boyd continued his good form to win the SA Croquet Association’s open singles and open doubles titles. In the same year, he was one of the top 12 players in the country to be invited to play in a level best tournament, which he also won. He followed this up by winning the national handicap singles in both 2006 and 2007.

His proudest moment came in 2008 when South Africa hosted the world championships and he was selected to play in the national side.


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