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Richard Bonehill 1949-2015

Richard, a great coach and a true friend.

I joined the Veterans 17 years ago, about the same time as I started fencing. At that time I was fencing a bit of foil and a bit of epee but was gradually drawn towards sabre as this seemed to be the more exciting and flamboyant weapon. Sure enough, this was where I found Richard and he eventually became my coach and a wonderful friend.

In 2006 I worked with Richard at the Veteran’s World Championships in Bath on the opening and closing ceremonies. He was meticulous in everything he took on. The ceremonies were perfect, run with military precision down to the last detail. But this was Richard; he would never take anything on unless he could give it 100%. He even gave up his chance to compete to finish working on the closing ceremony.

We worked towards my first World Championships in Sydney in 2007. Again his total commitment to my training and a belief in my abilities got me the title. After that we never looked back and we worked hard together over the years with great success and a great deal of fun.

Richard was such a talented sabreur. He commanded a presence on the piste and would at times fence brilliantly especially if there was a crowd watching. Always the showman often finishing with flamboyant quinte parry riposte and the mask would be ripped off and the hand would be outstretched to shake hands almost before the lights went off; always with a big smile.

In 2013 at the Veterans World championships in Varna, Bulgaria Richard won a bronze medal. It was the 14th consecutive year that Richard had represented Great Britain in sabre at the World Championships. He was also the Captain of the GB Sabre Team which won a silver medal at the championships.

In total Richard won 4 World Championship medals including the Gold medal and title of World Champion in 2010 in Limoges. He was fiercely proud of being selected to fence for GB and England as well as for European teams. He was a natural leader and captained many winning teams.

Off the piste he had a magnetic quality. People used to love to be in his company and there was nothing he enjoyed more, after a hard day of fencing, than a double Jack Daniels in a long glass with ice and a can of coke. Dressing up for dinner meant a change of shorts and tee shirt but he wouldn’t have been Richard without being so outrageous and everyone loved him for it.

I am not really his historian but over the years he has told me bits about his colourful past. From his parents’ pub off Russell square which entertainers used to frequent, to his days at the City of London Boys School with his two older brothers. It was here he started fencing. He had a few breaks for a few years while he went off to Goldsmiths College to study art and design and all the other stuff that art students were doing in those days involving riots and sit ins. He did however design the medals for the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. It was at art school that he met Lynne and they worked together in the jewellery trade and became very successful. In time he became disillusioned as the value of the jewels he had to work with were more important to the wealthy customers than the beauty of the pieces he was creating so he upped sticks and went off to join the circus!

He rode horses in Wild West shows around the country and also rode in jousting tournaments, loving the outdoors and even sleeping in the shed with the horses at times. I believe it was from here he was talent spotted for stunt work and that is how he moved into the movie business, joined Equity and the rest is history with appearances in Star Wars, Dr Who and many others films.

He became a talented Fight Director for many productions including Highlander and Sharpe with his trade mark twist of the blade in the final thrust. Actors he worked with include Sean Bean, Pierce Brosnan, Leonardo Di Caprio, Patrick Swayze, Sean Connery and Kiera Knightley to name just a few from a long list of famous names.

On top of this Lynne and Richard ran an antique shop in Truro for many years and have run antique fairs each month in Loswithial for the last 25 years as well as three large antique fairs at Kingsley Village each year.

On moving to Cornwall he joined Truro fencing club and became head coach. Jon Salfield was one of his pupils whom he inspired and who took over as head coach as Richard moved into his new role as Life President of the club. He was always fiercely proud of what Truro had achieved.

He defied his years with his shock of thick brown hair and good looks; he was the envy of many men. He hated illness, said it was a weakness and was very private about his own health. He used to say if he was to pop his clogs tomorrow he had had a wonderful life and wouldn’t change a thing. However he also said he was immortal. Maybe he was, maybe he will live on in our hearts and memories and never be forgotten.

He leaves behind his wife Lynne, numerous cats and badgers and foxes and their beautiful white house overlooking the bay in St Ives.

‘Never to have sailed the Spanish Main with Errol Flynn, never to have ridden the King’s Highway with Louis Hayward, never to have fought the Cardinal’s Guard with Douglas Fairbanks is never to have dreamed, never to have lived, never to have been young’.

From Swordsmen of the Screen

Jane Hutchison

It is with much sadness and shock that BVF has received the very sad news that Richard Bonehill died suddenly last Thursday, January 29th.

Richard, as well as being a fervent member of BVF, was also president of the Truro Fencing Club and was Head Coach there until 2007. His hard work and determination was instrumental in the development of the club, making it the very successful organisation that it now is.

He was responsible for the very enjoyable Duel on the Beach and the Cornwall Pro Sabre competitions and was leader of the Cornwall team at many Excalibur events.

Richard played a key part when BVF hosted the Veterans World Championships in 2006 in Bath, organising both the opening and closing ceremonies for this event, still regarded as the best World Championships by many around the world. He was a very talented sabreur and was Veterans World Champion in 2010.

In accordance with Richard’s wishes there will be no funeral or remembrance service.

Richard will be very sorely missed. A man of great humour, warmth, honesty and integrity who was never afraid to voice his opinions or admit if he thought he was wrong.

In the words of Jon Salfield:

‘Friend, Leader, Mentor, Motivator, Storm-trooper, Rodeo Rider, Designer, Actor, Stuntman, World Champion. Sometimes a pain in the backside, always honest, loyal and inspirational. A true on-off – his like will not be seen again.’

Gillian Aghajan

At this moment of reading, words fail me, except only to send my condolences to Richard’s family, and to all his Fencing friends at Truro. With great sadness

Brian Millo

Very sad news indeed.

Tim Miles

I cannot believe Richard has died, words fail me. I am so sorry, just stunned by this sad news.

Brian Speight

I was very fond of Richard and was shocked to hear this news.

What happened? He always belied his years.

Richard Cohen

After losing Carol, Frank and Fred, I wondered who would be next. The last person I would have thought of would have been Richard!

He was a great friend to everyone, good fun to be around, a witty tease, and always there.

I am very sad for his own family, and his fencing friends.

Poppy Cooksey

I am very sorry to hear another bad news please send my sincerely condolence to his family

Peter Lui

Terrible news, especially following on so close to other recent losses!

Very sad too that Richard had requested no funeral or memorial…I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing to be able to say goodbye to a dear friend.

Kate Smith

I heard the news tonight and it was indeed a shock.

Jason Ball

What a shock! I am stunned! Such sad news indeed. Richard was a gent, great fun and great humour.

He will be sorley missed by all. RIP Richard and condolences to the family.

Tracy Russen

I am SO sorry, and utterly shocked to hear this news.

Richard always appeared so alive and vital. I can only re-iterate Jon’s sentiments.

I am deeply saddened!

Yvonne Walls

How very sad. Condolences to his family.

Jo Wheeler

Gosh, that is sad news. I can’t think of a single person who had more enthusiasm and dedication to fencing, I liked him a lot and the world will be a different place with him not in it.

I’ll raise a glass to him this weekend.

Chris Farren

When I first joined BVF I came down to Gloucester for the vet championships and Richard was the first to say hello. I will always remember him for being a genuine nice guy.

He will be sadly missed by his fencing colleagues.

Ken Roberts

Sorry to hear about Richard. Any clue as to the cause?

Dennis Ward

I am very sorry indeed to hear this. Please pass on my condolences to Richard’s family. I did not know Richard but remember seeing him at competitions.

A sad loss.

Andrew Gould

It so sad to lose a fellow sabreur and so young!!

We seem to be having an increasing numbers if casualties lately , quite depressing.

Christopher Perko

I am very sad to read in Gillian’s email of the untimely death of Richard Bonehill.

Actually, having been abroad so long, I had hardly met him until the Vets World Champs in Debrecen, where I made his acquaintance properly and can now fully recognize the words of Jon quoted by Gillian and can appreciate what a loss to fencing and friends this is.

My condolences to his family.

Kristin Payne

Richard Bonehill

Un gentiluomo e un bravo sciabolatore, sono veramente addolorato


Vittorio Carrara

What a shock, We were good friends and good oponents. He will be sorely missed.

Mike Norfolk

Mortality is a sobering thing.

From all at the Stone Club

Frederick Powell

Awful news —- I reread the email several times and cannot believe it

Mark Cwynarski

What a shock! I had no idea he was ill other than I recall he had a back problem.

I will be coming to the Vets Champs next month and no doubt this loss and our other losses will be talked of and remembered then.

Terry Wishart

My condolences to the family, Richard was a great competitor and true friend.

Mark and Carolyn Ballard

I am truly saddened by the news of Richards passing. Our first meeting on the piste was when I was 13 and he was 22. We both fenced at Leicester City Fencing Club and fenced for a couple of years together. We then meet again in 1999 when he came over and grabbed me at my first Veterans Championships and this is where our friendship was rekindled.

The Nottingham Cavaliers where lucky enough to get a two team invite to the first Duel on the Beach and we participated in every one after. Our club members will always carry those great memories with them and I thank Richard for that.

My condolences to Richards wife Lynne and to all the Cornish fencers.

Lindsay Watkiss

So sad that Richard is no longer with us and my condolences go out to Lynne and his family.

I always enjoyed Richard’s company, he never conformed and for that we all loved him. BVF is so much poorer for his passing.

Maggie Myers

Richard Bonehill

I have no words that can describe how I feel right now. So many wise words and so many shared moments, so many photographs and so many memories.

He would be cross if he new how sad we are all feeling; he would say life is for living and having fun and we certainly had lots of that.

Jane Hutchison

Richard and Gordon Coombes at
the 2006 Vets ChampionshipsRichard Bonehill

A wonderful competitor! There’s something especially sad about the loss of someone against whom one has enjoyed many a hard fight.

I only got to know Richard when I first joined the Vets and then quite a bit better during our amazing trip to the World Championships in Sydney in 2007.

I particularly relished fencing him during epic Winton Cup South West v London sabre matches when absolutely no quarter was asked nor given but the handshake at the end and the smile on his face put our battle behind us.

A true character and indefatigable worker is lost to our sport!

Cary Zitcer

Richard Bonehill

The attached photo was I believe taken at World Champs in Limoges in 2008. Richard, Jane and I shared many happy, memorable moments together. This is but one of many.

Chris Prevett

A great friend for me, we have donne a lot of matches!! Ciao Richard

Giulio Paroli

Sad news for all those who knew him … hello Richard

Claudia Bandieri

So sad to hear of his passing, he was brilliant company and extremely supportive.

Max Telfer

Such very sad news. Richard was an enormous character who will leave another massive gap in Vets Fencing.

RIP Richard

Carole Seheult

So sad to hear this – he was always such a fun guy to be around; he just lifted everyone’s spirits.

Fiona Haldane

Such sad news. He will be greatly missed.

Dorinda Balchin

The fencing community – and the vets internationals – will never be the same again. Richard was such a fixture on the circuit – I will always expect to see his cheeky grin and want to hear one of his (sometimes good!) jokes. He also had tenacity and sporting competitiveness which he expressed in the most gentlemanly way. We will miss him so much. I am sure you are giving them hell in the ‘Heaven Age Groups/Spiritual World Championships’, Richard! xo

Grace Coulter

Dear British fencing friends,

on behalf of the Italian Veterans Association (AMIS), its President Roberto Di Matteo and all Board members, as well as all Italian veteran fencers, we’d like to express our deepest thoughts of condolences for the sudden passing of Richard Bonehill. Most of us knew him quite well, having met on the fencing strips all around the world so many times in the last few years.

He will be much missed by all of us, for sure we’ll miss his smile in all the fencing events to come. We’ll ideally join you from Italy today for a fencing salute and a minute’s silence. A big hug for you all and his family.

Gianni Mauceri

Richard Bonehill

Tragic news. Richard was so full of life, brilliant company and a great competitor. We often exchanged news about recent acquisitions. It’s hard to believe he has left us.

Malcolm Fare

Such sad news. Richard was a one off and is irreplaceable. My condolences to his family.

Kate Elvin

Richard and Frank both had a wicked sense of humour and often shared cigarettes before Frank gave up. I know they would often disappear, but everyone knew where they had gone! Richard and Frank did not always agree on all matters to do with fencing but would have friendly discussions and always end up the best of friends.

On behalf of Frank who would have been very upset to hear of Richard’s death I would like to send my condolences to his family. He will I am sure be sadly missed by all who knew him.

Betty Mills

I met Richard in 2004, and have seen him at every World Championship and Commonwealth event since.

Always a smile, always a joke. I watched him win his Gold medal at the Worlds.

This is indeed shocking news.

On behalf of the Veterans Committee of the Canadian Fencing Federation and the Canadian Veterans family we express our deep sadness and heartfelt sympathy to Richard’s friends and family.

Gaby Weisz

Richard Bonehill

Jane Eyre shared the very sad news about Richard to me early this morning. My mind immediately played back all the little encounters with Richard. I wish we found time for dinner.

I have so many fond memories about Richard and associate seeing him as part of the joy of being at Vet Worlds. I will miss him dearly.

Please tell his love ones that those “across the pond” will miss him.

Wang Yung

Richard Bonehill

An interview with Richard on YouTube

Richard was, indeed, a most warm and charming man, an excellent fencer and always a pleasure to see at the World Championships.

The entire American veteran fencing community shares your loss. We will miss him terribly.

Please extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends.

Judith A. Offerle