International Umpire and Table Tennis England Vice-President George Tyler passed away on January 22, aged 92.

George’s funeral will take place at 12:30pm on Tuesday February 20 at Lea Fields Crematorium, Gainsborough Road, Lea, Gainsborough, DN21 5PL.

A wake to celebrate George’s life will take place at Market Rasen Golf Club, Legsby Road, Market Rasen. LN8 3DZ, starting at 13:30pm. Donations, if desired, to the British Heart Foundation.

If you are planning to attend the funeral and/or wake can you please contact Tom Purcell at [email protected] or 07785 385918.

George was born in Newport, Monmouthshire on July 15, 1931 but lived most of his life in England. However, he was always a proud Welshman and it was for Wales that his three children, Bryn, Nigel and Lesley, all played at international level.

At the 2010 National Championships (photo by Tai Adedayo)

George was one of our best and most experienced umpires, becoming a County Umpire in 1981, National Umpire in 1984 and International Umpire in 1986. He officiated at some of the most prestigious tournaments and championships not only in England but around the world.

He was at the World Championships, Manchester 1997 and the following year at the World Veteran Championships in the same city and also at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002, the first time table tennis was played in the Games.

A ‘poster boy’ at the 1998 World Vets

George was part of the umpires’ team in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Championships in 1997, the Disabled World Championships in Paris 1998 and the Paralympics in Athens in 2004. He officiated at various European Championships at all age levels including Euro ’94 in Birmingham, Stuttgart 1992, Czech Republic 1996, Eindhoven 1998, Italy 2001 and also at several International Schools Championships.

At the 1997 Commonwealth Championships in Glasgow

As well as his extensive international appointments, George was a regular on the domestic scene, including, the English National Championships from 1992-2004 and many English Opens during the same period. Other duties included at the Island Games, Jersey in 1997 and the Isle of Man in 2001. In 2004 and 2005 George led the umpiring for the prestigious Ocean International Cup held at Fairfield Halls, Croydon.

2005 Ocean International Cup, Fairfield Halls, Croydon – with Vladimir Samsonov and Ryu Seung Min

Although George last umpired at the National Championships in 2004, he was still present after this, clipboard in hand, as he took on the role of Umpire Assessor, firm but fair in his judgments. George ensured that the high quality of umpiring that England was so well renowned for was maintained.  

In 2004 the Association of English Table Tennis Umpires (AETTU) was formed, an independent body to look after the welfare of umpires and raise any issues with the national governing body. George was its first Chairman and continued in that role until 2021 when, at the age of 90, he decided that it was time to hand the baton on, the following year he was made the Association’s President.

George’s experience and wisdom were greatly valued. In recognition of his valuable work with the AETTU, George was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation, a book of photographs and a crystal bowl.

2021 George with his presentations from the AETTU

As well as his umpiring prowess, George also passed his knowledge and experience on to others in an administrative capacity serving as a Member of the Umpires and Referees Committee (NURC) from 1992-2004, a Member of the Umpires Review Panel 2002-2010, the Umpires Review and Mentoring Panel 2010-14, Umpires Selection Panel 1994-2002 and the Umpires Qualification Panel 1994-97. At Regional level George was a Committee Member of the East Midlands Region where he was first appointed in 2007 and at county level, he became Chairman of Lincolnshire in 2007, until 2022, and also their Deputy National Councillor in 2006/07 and National Councillor 2007-2021.

In recognition of George’s significant contribution to table tennis he was made a Vice-President of the ETTA in 2009.

Although George was best known for his umpiring duties, he was no mean player and represented both Hertfordshire and Lincolnshire at county level. Perhaps one of his proudest moments was when he became the Men’s Veterans Champion of Wales in 1987.

Our sincere condolences go to wife, Sylvia, children Bryn, Nigel and Lesley, all George’s family and friends. He will be missed by all who knew him.   

From Tom Purcell, International Blue Badge Umpire and TTE Vice-President: “I have known George for about 30 years from when I started on the umpiring circuit. From the start I realised that as well as umpiring, George looked after his umpiring colleagues, trying to make sure that they had good working conditions.

“In 2004 George and a number of other colleagues formed the Association of English Table Tennis Umpires (AETTU) with the intention of improving the welfare of umpires. He was the first Chair of the AETTU and stayed in this role until he retired in 2021.

“George did a massive amount of work for table tennis and umpiring and during the time that I knew him we became good friends. He wasn’t afraid to speak his mind when he had to, but he was also more than willing to help people.”

From David Edwards International Blue Badge Umpire and ETTA Vice-President: “George was a dear friend, colleague, and mentor to me. I owe my umpiring career to George.

“I became a County umpire in 1985 and did County matches only for four or five years. When I had free weekends, I used to travel to tournaments and international matches to watch table tennis.

“Every year I used to drive down to the Sussex Open on the Sunday and George spoke to me and said ‘why don’t you come on the circuit and get paid for travel and accommodation?’ Every tournament I went to I was asked to go to the next tournament and I ended up doing around 25 tournaments a year!

“As we lived quite close to each other we travelled all over the country with Harry Spraggs and Alan Harwood. Our first international tournament was the European Championships in Birmingham in 1994.

“I am so pleased to have met George and we always used to enjoy a bottle of wine together after a hard day’s umpiring. George will be sadly missed. He was an amazing man with a passion for table tennis and a good friend.”

Funeral details will be advised when they are known.