So many people have been part of Milton Keynes Softball League, but in 2017, we gained a new member, Jules Peck. His instantly recognisable Yorkshire accent immediately stood out amidst a variety of Home Counties voices as Jules quickly became Diamond member of our league, attending training every week with a total determination to crack softball.
Jules was one of those rare people that everyone liked. His self-effacing humour and universally friendly nature meant that he quickly became a massive part of our league. Jules joined the Hornets team and was part of their league title win in 2019 and picked up more silverware winning the plate as captain of his indoor team earlier this year, scoring his first home run that season in the process.
On the field, Jules gave his all to improve his skills, becoming a more and more reliable hitter, fielder and even an indoor pitcher. There were many highlights on the field including an incredible play on third to send the MK Diamonds into the Jive final at Disco Ball and he was part of the 2018 indoor team that won the Snowball tournament.
His commitment to improvement was an inspiration to all. However, Jules was also keen never to let down his teammates and bowed out from League play in August 2021, receiving a guard of honour in the process.
But his exploits on the pitch were only a small part of what Jules brought to softball in Milton Keynes.
During Covid-19, Jules took his typical enthusiasm into our walking and cycling challenge, joining our attempt to travel the distance (as the crow flies) between our own home field in Milton Keynes to the World Series winners Los Angeles Dodgers stadium; a whopping 5396 miles! Jules took a sizeable 570 mile chunk out of this as he took his daily stroll or ride.
But it was perhaps quiz nights where Jules most came to the fore. From early Barry Manilow singles to Marylin Munroe's husbands, Jules had it covered. At one quiz in Brewdog, it was discussed whether the team should simply be called 'Jules' after he cleaned up on the picture round.
Jules attended every volunteering day held at our home in Conniburrow and even after retiring from all playing earlier this year, he attended umpire training, joined the committee, led social walks, assumed scoring duties for the Hornets and helped with the installation of our new benches.
MKSL chairperson Leah Holmes said: "For me, Jules epitomised everything you would like to see in your members and yourself. He was endlessly enthusiastic, welcoming to absolutely everyone, hugely generous with his time, radiated good humour and positivity, the ultimate sportsperson and always gave his all."
At the end of the season, the Hornets shared their heartfelt thanks with Jules on WhatsApp for staying part of the Hornets family and he that was a "Hornet for life". True to his character, Jules replied that he was blushing at all the compliments.
Shortly, after our League Final, we received the terrible news that Jules had passed suddenly and unexpectedly. The news was a huge shock to the whole MKSL community.
Leah added: "Since news of his death I have received messages from many members. Some were only in their first year who had been welcomed so warmly and enthusiastically. He had already made a mark on them. Others had known him for many years and have such fond memories of his positivity and humour.
"Jules expressed his thanks for the league and the community earnestly and often, which I cherished at the time but even more so now. He always looked for the best in others and absolutely gave the best he had. He leaves our league in a better place thanks to his legacy and the mark he's left on so many of us."
We will remember Jules in many ways. Sean McGinn and other members bought an MK Softball wreath with Jules's initials on it. And the club member of the year award will be renamed in Jules's honour.
Jules was a special person and it seems strange to look over to Hornets bench and not see him there encouraging his teammates. We'd like to share our sympathies with his family and those who attended his funeral were moved by these words, which perfectly sum up our Jules, who we will miss so much.