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Obituary: Tricia Benge – champion for vulnerable children

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TRICIA Benge, who has died at the age of 74, will be remembered for her tireless work to champion the rights of vulnerable children.

Tricia began a career in social work soon after leaving university, rising to become assistant area director of services for the charity Action for Children.

Driven by a sense of justice, equality of opportunity, and integrity in her work, Tricia never lost a case involving children at the High Court.

Tricia Benge was an avid tennis player
Tricia Benge was an avid tennis player

Ever after retirement, she continued to care for others, volunteering as the administrator for the New Forest Counselling Together service for nearly a decade.

She was on the management committee for Alexandra House, a local Christian housing association, but was also a familiar face on local tennis courts through her member-

ship of Hale Gardens Tennis Club.

Born in Malaysia, Tricia left the country at the age of eight and arrived in New Milton.

Before relocating to the UK, Tricia grew up in Kajang, about 20km from Kuala Lampur, where her father was headmaster of the local school.

Both her British parents worked in the school system of Malaysia, and her father, who had been a Japanese prisoner of war, went on to be the last British director of education for the country.

The family later moved to Alor Setar where Tricia remembered caring for a mouse deer

which measured only 18 inches high.

It had been given to her father as a present from the island of Langkawi where he had been chief inspector of schools.

After coming to the UK, Tricia attended New Milton Junior school before Brockenhurst Grammar until 1965.

She went on to study English at Royal Holloway College London University in Egham.

The couple later set up home in west London where they had two daughters.

A talented tennis player, as a teenager she joined Hale Gardens Tennis Club and was also a regular worshipper at New Milton Baptist Church

On retirement, they decided to move back to her parents’ home in New Milton which they had moved into in 1961 and joined New Life Church.

A formidable tennis player with a strong forehand and an elegant volley, she was overjoyed to be able to return to play at Hale Gardens.

She loved the club and edited its monthly The Racket newsletter, and also hosted regular quiz nights.

Mike would join her as score-master but there was, according to friends, a “clear rule that the quiz master was always right”.

In 2020 Tricia was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

She told friends that such was her love for tennis that she joked that “given the opportunity to play again and have a shorter time, or to have longer to live with no chance of playing tennis again, she may take the former”.

She died peacefully at her family home on Tuesday 24th August.

In her final weeks she was care for there by Mike, her daughters Philippa and Nicola, her sons-in-law and grandsons.

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