Ed Baliszewski

February 27, 2008

I very much doubt if many readers of the blog have met Ed, or even know his name. He was born in Swindon in 1952 of parents who were among the many Polish refugees to settle in Britain after World War II. He died last week of cancer after a long illness and with great regret I will not be able to be at his funeral in St Thomas Moore Church today as I am overseas. Ed and Isla (who he married in 1986) were at the heart of social life in the Kennet Valley. We moved there 14 years ago from Surrey and within three months knew more people than we had met in three years of living in Surrey. In no small part that was down to the hospitality of Ed and Isla who were the catalysts for all social activity within the valley.

I remember one dinner at Baliszewski house where Ed quizzed me on my view of cricket and I ended up playing badly for the Kennet Valley team which he created to restore a missing aspect of village life. That cricket team was about social interaction, creating something that would centre village activity on a Sunday, bringing people together, getting them talking and doing things together.

Another Ed initiative led to the annual New Years Day west v east free to all and for all football and rugby matches for hung over adults and their children which are now an essential component of the valley’s social life. Ed was the referee and his performance in that role was an entertainment in its own right. He should be credited with the invention of the two ball football match (one for children and women, one for all), an inspirational approach to social interaction.

He played chess and backgammon to professional standards, sat on various charity bodies and in general did whatever was necessary (and more) to create a living sense of community within the Kennet Valley and Lockeridge in particular. All communities need their Ed, we were fortunate to have one and the sense of loss on hearing of his death is impossible to describe.

He leaves behind a wife and three children (20, 18 & 11) who have asked that people wear colorful clothing for his funeral as as tribute to his wit, warmth and hospitality.

He was in a very real sense the essence of a gentle-man

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