30th March 1936 – 5th August 2011
Chris Pottinger, affectionately known as ‘Potty,’ was born in Bournemouth on 30th March 1936, moved to Ewell 9 months later and lived there throughout his life. Although he worked in London with Lloyds Register of Shipping; Ewell was central to his life and he was elected a Borough Councillor for twelve years, and served twice as Chairman of the Ewell Village Residents’ Association.
It was at St Mary’s Church in Ewell that Chris and Gill were married in 1970, and in the village that they brought up their family, Debbie, Suzie, Jonathan and Becky.
In 1979 Chris was one of the first to respond when the then Vicar of Ewell, Peter Hogben, prevailed upon his Young Wives’ Group to volunteer their husbands for a “mock-morris” event for the village fete. As it became clear that St Mary’s Morris Men (as we were known in early days) had potential to become an institution, Chris recruited friends and neighbours. He served the side as Bagman for many years, organising events, liaising with the Borough Council, building relationships with other Morris sides and continually encouraging and motivating his fellow performers.
Throughout the history of the side Chris organised the closure of Ewell High Street for the Village Fair and our ‘Day of Dance’ in the summer and again for the Boxing Day tour, he also edited and produced scripts for the Mummers’ Play – a role he relished!
Over the years Ewell was added to our title, giving us regional identity. Meetings of the Morris Ring, cycle tours and days out with the Morris took us to various parts of England and the Continent and Chris was seldom absent. Even after major surgery Chris continued dancing, happy to be introduced as ‘a man with a titanium hip’.
Chris’s alter ego was, of course, Napoleon, a role that he relished throughout countless Mummers’ Plays. With his bicorn hat, fluttering tricolour flag, guttural enunciation ‘Leesten verry carefully …. I will say thees ornly wunce’ and with the family ketchup supply pumping from his mortal wound, he was a firm favourite with the ever-growing village crowd.
His ‘intro’ to ‘The Upton-upon-Severn Stick-dance’ is also legendary! A saga concerning rose-tinted water at medieval feasts, culminated in the triumphant ‘Finger-bowl!’ At the end of the dance a rubber finger was joyously exhibited!
As well as Bagman Chris served the side for a term as Squire. He was our Archivist, and edited and produced our journal ‘Capers’. In 2007 in recognition of his outstanding service to the side Chris was unanimously elected Vice President.
Chris was never known to ‘sit on the fence’ and his steadfast, forthright, unwavering views were readily voiced, although everyone knew that he had the side’s welfare & traditions at heart. This gave him the title, as mooted by Bryan Elphick ‘Mr Crusty!’
He was a staunch supporter of all the various innovations that were introduced to give the side its own unique identity. His desire was for Ewell St. Mary’s Morris Men to become ‘a true village side’ – an ambition that we all hope he felt was fulfilled.
Chris will be mourned not only as a husband, father and grandfather, but as a mentor, friend and fine example of a life well lived. He will always remain a legend in Ewell St. Mary’s Morris Men’s history.