7 famous people from Fleet in Hampshire

PUBLISHED: 00:00 10 March 2020

Justin Rose  Photo: tourprogolfclubs.com

Justin Rose Photo: tourprogolfclubs.com

Archant

From sports stars to leading lights of the stage and screen, and from writers to flying aces, Viv Micklefield takes a closer look at some of those found on Fleet’s roll of honour.

Justin Rose, golfer

Originally brought up in South Africa, the 39-year-old learnt to play golf at Fleet's North Hants Golf Club which, having first opened over a century ago, boasts a rich sporting heritage. Since becoming a professional on the international circuit, Justin's career's trajectory has been stratospheric with championship wins at both the 2013 US Open and the 2018 FedEx Cup, before realising his ambition to become the world's number one golfer.

On top of this, he's also a defending Olympic gold medallist, having claimed the top podium spot at the Rio Games four years ago. According to Justin: "If I could turn back the years, I would have liked to play more golf with my dad."

Away from the greens, Justin and his wife Kate have set up a foundation in their adopted home of Orlando, Florida. Working with under-privileged children, it has the aim of "feeding hungry tummies and curious minds".

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John Feaver, tennis player

Born in Fleet in February 1952, John achieved success as a doubles player on the tennis circuit. A career pinnacle, which saw him play in 11 Grand Slams, was reaching the semi-finals of the 1982 French Open with his partner Cássio Motta, where they lost to the eventual championship winners Sherwood Stewart and Ferdi Taygan.

John's other claim to fame is as a big hitter. For more than 20 years he held the record for serving the most aces in a single match at Wimbledon. Using an old-fashioned wooden racket, 42 winners flew past Australian legend, and three-time champion, John Newcombe in the second round match.

As a member of Great Britain's Davis Cup squad between 1977 and 1983, he played alongside John Lloyd and Buster Mottram. Following his retirement as a player, a career in sport and media saw John becoming a Lawn Tennis Association tournament director. He's also been a hot shot behind the charity StreetGames, which seeks to transform communities through the power of sport.

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Juliet Aubrey, actress

The BAFTA-winning actress was born in Fleet in 1966. It was while reading classics and archaeology at King's College that Juliet went to Italy to study and here, rather romantically, joined a travelling theatre company.

Returning home, she decided to switch careers. Having been cast initially in stage productions which included Ivanov at the National Theatre, Juliet's big break came playing Dorothea in the TV adaptation of Middlemarch. Since then she's appeared on our small screens in episodes of Primeval, The Mayor of Casterbridge, and The White Queen, as well as in TV favourites such as Midsommer Murders and Silent Witness. In 2016, Juliet added to her film credits, playing the female lead opposite Bryan Cranston in The Infiltrator.

As an ambassador for the charity Women for Women International, which helps women survivors of war to rebuild their lives, she is an active campaigner, working to highlight global violence against women.

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John Russell, art critic and man of letters

"When art is made new, we are made new with it," wrote the critic John Russell who was born in Fleet in 1919. For more than half a century his erudite observations appeared in both The Sunday Times and The New York Times, where as chief art critic (1982-1990) John highlighted the work of post-war British artists.

After studying philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford, an unpaid internship at the Tate and war-time relocation to Worcestershire led to the publication of his first book Shakespeare's Country at the age of 23. And, not long after, his first art book, British Portrait Painters was published in 1944.

Having met Ian Fleming, of James Bond fame, while working in naval intelligence it was Fleming who put a word in for John at The Sunday Times. Here he reviewed books, plays and musical performances, alongside organizing art exhibitions, before New York beckoned. John died aged 89 in Manhattan in 2008.

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Racquel Cassidy, actress

With the TV series Downton Abbey becoming such a global hit Racquel, who played Phyllis Baxter the Countess of Grantham's ladies' maid has rarely been off our screens recently. Filmed at Hampshire's Highclere Castle, Racquel appeared in the final three seasons and reprised her role for last year's big screen adaptation.

Born in Fleet in January 1968, she went to Farnborough Hill Convent and read modern languages at Girton College Cambridge, before abandoning a PhD in biological anthropology in favour of acting.

Her comedic talents have been much in evidence as the unflappable wife Mel in Jack Dee's Lead Balloon, and as girlfriend Teresa in the sit-com Uncle. Having taken up a pitchfork for the wartime drama Land Girls, Racquel's other spell-binding appearances include Miss Hardbroom in The Worst Witch and an episode of the comedy mockumentary W1A. Of her profession, Raquel has said: "I'm in acting because I'm searching to do lots of different things."

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Gemma McArthur, diver

As a child, Gemma dreamt of one day becoming a zookeeper. Instead she's made a big splash on the world's high diving scene. Born in 1998 Gemma is a graduate of Southampton Diving Academy, one of the UK's oldest, and currently calls Fleet her hometown. So far, not only has the 21-year-old won a gold medal in the ten-metre platform

at the British National Championships, her head for heights has been rewarded with successful competitions for Team GB.

Gemma somersaulted and rotated her way to a Commonwealth Games debut representing Scotland on Australia's Gold Coast in 2018, where she made the final 12. As well as performing in the individual event, she has also made headlines in the mixed synchronized competition. Her pairing with Lucas Thomson saw the duo strike gold Down Under at the FINA Grand Prix with all eyes now on achieving home success in Birmingham at the 2020 Commonwealth Games.

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Air Vice Marshal Sir Cecil Bouchier, KBE, CB, DFC

As war records go, there are few more distinguished than that of the Fleet-born flying ace Cecil Bouchier (1895-1979). A military hero he saw active service during both World Wars, with the British Army, the Royal Flying Corps, the Indian Air Force and the Royal Air Force.

Although best remembered for commanding the British Commonwealth Air Forces as part of the occupation force in Japan between 1945 and 1948, as a rookie flying officer during World War I he received the Distinguished Flying Cross for low-level flying behind enemy lines.

Promoted to Squadron Leader, Air Commodore and, finally, Air Vice-Marshal, Bouchier was decorated by the Allies, including having the Commander of the Legion of Merit conferred by the US President Truman in 1948, and becoming an Honorary Knight in 1953.

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More notable names

Mabel Wickham: Fleet was the landscape artist's birthplace in 1901. She became an associate of the Society of Women Arts in 1936 and was elected to the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours in 1938. Mabel died in 1992.

Mark Ellen: As a long-time journalist and broadcaster, Mark worked on music magazine Smash Hits before becoming editor of Q and The Word. He's been heard on BBC Radio One and was John Peel's stand-in on The Old Grey Whistle Test for five years. Mark was born in Fleet in 1953.

Tim Battersby: The author, columnist and Grammy-nominated musician now lives far from his Fleet 1949 birthplace in Florida. As one half of the Battersby Duo, Tim's made six appearances at the White House and Sesame Street.

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