Introduction to the new Captain for 2022

On a beautiful autumn afternoon there can be few places as prepossessing as sitting in Thurlestone’s club house overlooking the first hole. The sun is shining and the shadows are lengthening over what must be the most attractive opening golf hole in Devon.   

Tim Douglas-Riley, the DMVGA’s incoming Captain for 2022, and President Bob Small are sitting in the clubhouse after a very relaxed but competitive round of golf in the most benign conditions and where Thurlestone is to be seen at its most attractive. Bob had invited Tim, also known as TDR, for a round of golf to find out a little about next year’s Captain and how it is that he’s taking on one of the more important roles in his life!

Tim was born in Leeds but was brought up in Cheltenham where he attended Cheltenham College; on leaving school Tim went to Charing Cross Hospital on a Royal Navy Cadetship from where he progressed to Surgeon Lieutenant at HMS Bristol. His career then took him to the Marine Commandos where he served for 4 years as Regimental Medical Officer.  Tim’s revelations about his professional life continued apace but, meanwhile, as they headed for the 8th tee Bob, who was not playing that badly at all, was 3 down. Work to be done!

In 1980 Tim moved to Stonehouse in Plymouth for General Practitioner training, specialising in anaesthetics. 1982 saw Tim in the Falklands Campaign attached to a Surgical Support Team; of that period in his life Tim says “I really only have fond memories. It was a time when the whole country was behind us so we saw it as an adventure, which it certainly was. But I suppose I could sum it up by saying that I had a good war!”  The conclusion of the chat about the Falkland’s campaign came on the 11th green; for a moment or two they stood between the green and the next tee looking west. The early afternoon shone brightly, the sky was blue and the silver sea shimmered as they took in the stunning views over Burgh Island and Bantham Beach. This must have been in stark contrast to what must have been harrowing days and nights in the Falkland’s; they stood silently for a moment or two before moving onto the 12th tee – Bob now just one down.

On return to the UK Tim was attached to the SAS in Hereford for two years as Senior Medical Officer. It was at this time that Tim married Penelope with whom they now have four daughters, Charlotte, Alexandra, Henrietta and Venetia.

Following his SAS attachment Tim was required to take on the highly unusual role as Surgeon Commander on the Royal Yacht, Britannia, where he served for two and a half years.  This was followed by a spell at Lympstone as Principle Medical Officer; then abroad again as Surgeon Commander in Afghanistan for six months. On his return to the UK in 2005, Tim undertook a number of staff jobs; firstly, as Surgeon Captain, he attended the Royal College of Defence Studies and finally as Director of the Royal Naval Medical Service and The Queen’s Honorary Physician prior to retirement in 2009. Tim was awarded a CBE in 2009 for his leadership of the Royal Naval Medical Service and his contribution to strategic change programmes within the Defence Medical Service Department. Additionally he was made an Officer Brother in the Order of St John for his services to the Royal Naval and Defence Medical Services.

Tim had been one up as they stood on the 18th tee, but Bob’s birdie 3 saw the game halved – honours were even! Over tea in the clubhouse Tim admitted that his career path was, at the very least, ‘unusual’ but that he would not have changed a minute of it. In retirement he has been no less busy having being a Non-Executive Director of Norther Devon Healthcare Care Trust where he is the Senior Independent Director, Chair of the Organ Donation Committee and also a Trustee.  Also for a time he was President of St John’s Ambulance West Devon. Tim will be completing his NHS roles in March 2022 – thus enabling him to fulfil his role as DMVGA Captain to the full.

Tim is absolutely unafraid of taking on issues he does not understand or that he feels are out dated and require change; he does not suffer fools gladly and speaks his mind.

Tim’s golf has taken a somewhat different route; he has played since school days but admits that most of it was just ‘mucking about’; cricket, squash, tennis, skiing and sports diving have also been of great interest and enjoyment to him. Golf became his main leisure activity and in 2010 he joined Yelverton GC and plays off a very respectable 11 handicap. Gardening and DIY also take up a proportion of his time.

On being invited to be Adrian Granville-Smith’s Vice Captain in 2020, Tim was delighted to be asked; by his own admission he prefers to lead rather than being a follower!  Tim will wish to make his own mark on his role as Captain, looking for a greater involvement. Of his legacy he says that he hopes to leave his role at the end of the year with the Association running smoothly with long-term sustainability.  He said “I feel privileged to have been elected as DMVGA Captain and will do my very best to make sure the Association continues to provide the well organised, enjoyable and competitive golf we currently enjoy. We are experiencing a lot of change around us and the DMVGA will need to embrace those changes as it has done so well in the past. I am hoping that all Clubs will view the DMVGA as an Association they welcome with open arms because we are well organised, well behaved and a good source of income. The Association is heavily dependent on the Reps, as always, to ensure that we thrive as a band of golfing friends”.

In welcoming Tim Douglas-Riley into his role as Captain one can assume that he will be an innovative Captain who may well look to challenge some of the long-held practices in the DMVGA - but always for the better.  Have a good year Captain!

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