Julian Michael Hartley Hill (1974-1979)

Died in May 2020, aged 58

Julian “Hartley” Hill was a larger than life character who was well known among OMTs as a prominent member of the Hockey and Cricket sections, both as a player and as an administrator. He died in May at the relatively tender age of 58 following a six-month battle with cancer.

Julian with the ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy

Julian was born on 27th June 1961 and spent the early years of his life in Pinner. He was the eldest of four children, with three sisters: Carolyn, Rosanne and Amanda. His family moved to Northwood when he was aged seven with the intention that he would go to school locally, but he didn’t settle and moved to York House prep school in Croxley Green which was much more to his liking. From there he followed on to Merchant Taylors’.

Throughout his time at school, Julian joined in robustly with sports, enjoying hockey and rugby in the winter and cricket in the summer. His mother was a little less enthusiastic as she had to deal with regular phone calls from the MT sports master saying that Julian was in Mount Vernon Hospital with some injury or other.

Julian chose Russian as one of his O-Level subjects because it meant a trip to Russia. This was in the mid-1970s when Russia was a more closed country than it is today. Julian set off with several additional items of denim clothing and lots of chewing gum which he believed would be good for bartering with the locals. It is questionable how much Russian he learnt, but he certainly had a great experience.

Julian proudly attained the status of Junior Corporal in the RAF section of the CCF. From this and his study of the Hill family history, Julian developed a life-long interest in military history, reading up on the subject, researching and logging the military successes of many UK soldiers, SAS and airmen.

Julian developed a liking for heavy metal music as a teenager which he kindly shared with the others in his family though not all enjoyed the experience! The dart board on his bedroom door added to the noise and destruction in his room.

After school, Julian had a necessarily brief flirtation with accountancy, before moving across to the world of insurance which was to prove to be his natural home. It was while working at Richards Longstaff that he started to develop an interest in protection assurance, where life cover is used to protect against inheritance tax liabilities. Over the next 30 years, Julian was to become recognised as one of only a handful of real experts in this narrow field.

Julian was fortunate to inherit a network of clients and connections, many of whom followed him loyally through a turbulent period in the late 1980s when the business he was working for changed hands on several occasions. As a direct consequence, in 1992 Julian decided to branch out on his own and Hill Oldridge was formed, initially providing general financial advice, but latterly operating as a niche specialist protection assurance adviser.  At the time of Julian’s death, Hill Oldridge was regarded as one of the premier firms for complex life assurance placements and acted for more than 80 landed estates and their families.

Alongside his burgeoning career, Julian became a fixture at Durrants where he was an enthusiastic player in the social sides of OMT cricket and hockey. However, he also notched up quite a few appearances in the Cricket First XI because he lived locally in Croxley Green; for some years with Nigel Smith as his lodger. He was always easy to contact and a certainty to fill in at short notice if a player was injured or failed to turn up for a game. Within a few years, Julian was roped in as one of the cricket club administrators. At various times, he was Team Secretary, Membership Secretary, 3rd XI Captain, Colts Cricket Manager and finally Club Chairman – quite a record which will not be easily surpassed!

It is no secret that Julian’s keenness to participate in sport exceeded his capabilities as a sportsman and he was the butt of endless mickey-taking which he always accepted with good grace and humour. Adrian Hawkes recalls one occasion on Kent Tour when we were playing against Dover and Julian decided to borrow Bob Marsden’s Oxford University sweater. The OMT captain instantly promoted Julian to the exalted level of No 3 in our batting order as if wearing a recognised sweater could change the man underneath. Watching OMTs were then treated to a little cameo where Julian was given an undeserved respect whilst batting as only Julian knew how. Adrian was the umpire at the time and prolonged the fun by giving a couple of atrocious LBW decisions in Julian’s favour which only served to rile the opposition who had sought the prized wicket of a first-class cricketer until they began to appreciate the funny side of things as Julian’s attempted shot-making continued undeterred and without any noticeable regard for the bowling.

Howard Thompson paints a vivid recollection of Julian’s love of cricket:

“Memories of Hartley, or Julian as he was when I first met him (adults being called Sir or Mister Hill at that time). Absolutely and always from the very first, someone that just loved the game. Bathed in it.  Breathed in it.  And not just the game itself, as anyone that ever knew him would attest, but the environs of it.  The sport, the banter, the brotherhood. Just being involved was where he was at. Now, let’s face facts here. Julian was NOT good at games. In particular, his chosen sport: cricket.  But he chose his passion well.  You can be terrible at cricket from 12 to 80, but provided you pay your subs, you’re selected. And man alive, was that man selected.

I took to the field of battle with him on my debut (Amersham away, for you statisticians) and was immediately impressed by his enthusiasm for living the ethos of the fourth eleven by example. I’d summarise it thus:

Once a season, I do something that the professionals would nod at and say, “Not bad”. And that will keep me going.

Clearly, for the rest of it, it was just the company and competition. The man just loved the game.  The changing room, the bar, the company, and the field. He’s probably my all-time 100%er. His capacity for enjoyment of the game did not, at most times, match his competence for it. However, isn’t that the greatest passion of all?

Good man.  Good company. Great memories.”

Julian’s major sporting claim to fame was as a member of one of the very few OMT sporting sides to have gone through a whole season unbeaten. This was Nigel Birch’s hockey 4th XI in the season 1986/87. Now you might imagine that a forward line involving Julian Hill and Nigel Birch in their pomp would strike fear into any club hockey defence. But you would be wrong. Julian’s modest tally of goals included an horrendous mix of mishits, scuffs, flukes and the odd kick which the umpires missed. A rather more important contribution to the team’s success was the most effective way that the captain managed to conceal John Walter’s contribution from those higher up the club!

In later years, Julian and Hill Oldridge were significant financial sponsors of OMT cricket and hockey events and activities. Julian continued to support OMTs even though he was less directly involved after his move to Kent around ten years ago, where he bought a lovely converted barn with a considerable garden, woodland and a river flowing alongside. It was perfect as a long-term project for Julian to oversee. He fully embraced village life over the years, joining the cricket club, pub quiz team and making lots of friends in that community. Although Julian never married, he had a long-term relationship with Doey. She moved to Kent with him and they spent many happy years together. Julian enjoyed nothing more than a social evening in convivial company at The Man of Kent or The Bell Inn, his two favourite pubs. For a few glorious weeks, he even acted as “mein host” alongside Doey at the Bell when the proper landlord went missing in action.

Julian never missed an opportunity to mix business with pleasure!  Whether hosting his business contacts at The Oval or entertaining the local professionals or OMT friends at VATs Wine Bar in Holborn, Julian was unfailingly generous, courteous and engaging, but above all, good fun to be with.  The warmth of the many tributes received after his untimely passing show that he was respected by everyone he came across for being a true gentleman in the very best sense.

Julian’s family has organised a Much Loved tribute page at https://julian-hill.muchloved.com where you can leave a message, post a thought or make a charity donation in his memory.

David Pollock (1971-1975)


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