1955-69 Council Member
1969-74 Vice President
1974-76 President and Chairman of Council
Badminton Association of England Career
1961-65 Vice President
1961-70 Chairman of Council
1965-85 President (died in office)
The English county of Hampshire was rightly proud when Stuart Wyatt became first chairman and then President of the Badminton Association of England but even more delighted when he followed in Sir George Thomas’s footsteps by becoming the second Hampshire man to be elected IBF President in 1974.
But by the time he completed his two-year term with the IBF, politics had reared its ugly head over China and Taiwan and his successor, Sweden’s Stellan Mohlin, was confronted with an escalating situation.
Hampshire featured in the first ever county match against Surrey and it is understood that Sir George took part. Wyatt, for his part, was a good county player and appeared more than 70 times for Hampshire. His wife, Marie Rose (known as ‘Mims’), topped 100 appearances and was of international standard.
Wyatt won the Hampshire Restricted title men’s doubles nine times with three different partners and the mixed doubles three times with 1930s All England women’s singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles winner Thelma Kingsbury (who later won titles in the USA and at the time of writing [March 2015] was still alive at 104 years of age.
Wyatt’s domestic success as a player is all the more remarkable given that he played his badminton with a cradle strapped to a leg following a severe injury and as a result he never played in shorts.
He had played badminton since the age of 16 when he joined the Connaught Badminton Club in Fareham, the town where he was born. He also played for Fareham Cricket Club for more than 20 years.
But while his on court achievements were purely domestic, his success as an administrator went much further afield.
Former England manager Ciro Ciniglio knew him well and described him as “one of the best Presidents of the BA of E that we have ever had. He was President during my first few years as team manager and was a great support.”
He took his first steps on the IBF ladder when he represented New Zealand from 1953. But two years later he became an elected member of the IBF Council, using his charm and presence – he was 6ft 2in (1.87m) – to make a lasting impression.
Sir Craig Reedie, who was to become IBF President in 1981, paid tribute to Wyatt in an obituary, writing: “It was typical of his energy and enthusiasm for life that he was involved in a full programme of business appointments on the day he died.”
Sir Craig also pointed out that Wyatt was “for many years closely involved in the work of the Finance and Rules and Laws Committees.”
Knowledge of the rules was to serve him well as Wyatt was President during some of the difficult days in the mid-1970s when the serious dispute over the admission of the People’s Republic of China to the IBF and the resultant threat to Taiwan’s status escalated.
The first year of Wyatt’s Presidency had coincided with China’s emergence into the world sporting community.
Sir Craig, writing in the IBF’s anniversary book International Badminton – the first 75 years, said: “The problem was that the existing member of the IBF was the then Taiwan Badminton Association. China argued in general terms that Taiwan was occupying the rightful place in an international sports federation of mainland China, not least because Taiwan called itself ‘Republic of China’.”
It was Wyatt’s decision as President at the annual meeting in 1976, that the meeting should accept the motion for the Taiwan BA to be expelled and for China BA to become a member. This followed China's insistence that Taiwan must be expelled before they became a member.
The ruling went against precedent in that no conditional applications for membership could be received, particularly as Taiwan was a member in good standing. Wyatt then proposed that both Taiwan and China should put in another application for membership in 1977.
Taiwan then took the IBF to the High Court in London, claiming the IBF’s action was unconstitutional and therefore illegal. The High Court decision favoured Taiwan and led to an emergency IBF Council meeting in Glasgow (because Scotland was not bound by English law).
By now two things had happened. The China BA had formed the World Badminton Federation and Wyatt had been succeeded as President by Sweden’s Stellan Mohlin.
This was to be the most critical period in IBF history and the situation was not finally resolved until 1981, the year Reedie became President.
The highlight of Wyatt’s badminton career came in 1982 when he and Reedie as IBF President welcomed HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip to the Royal Albert Hall in London when England hosted the final rounds of the Thomas Cup. It was to be the only time The Queen attended a major badminton event.
Apart from his work the IBF and the BA of E, Wyatt was also President of the Badminton Umpires’ Association from 1963-66, having been a founder member of this worthy group.
Away from badminton, he was a partner in the family business of surveyors, auctioneers, and estate agents and his work included managing the Broadlands estate of The Queen’s uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten.
He received the British Empire Medal for 25 years’ service as Division Commander of Special Constables and received the OBE in 1972 for his equally meritorious service to badminton.
Wyatt also served on the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food’s Advisory Committee.
International Badminton – The first 75 years
World Badminton, December 1985
Badminton England Museum
The Badminton Gazette, October 1961
-- By William Kings