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A London trip which makes me reflect on what really matters

A London trip which makes me reflect on what really matters

When I arrived at Heathrow Airport 36 years ago, I had no idea my life was about to change for the better.

An hour-and-a-half after touching down, the tyres of the car I was in rolled over a white-stone driveway and up to a set of wooden electric gates in North London.

Two German Shephard dogs, Elli and Elsa (as I was about to discover), were barking as the gates slowly opened.

When I walked into the kitchen to meet a gentleman by the name of Nigel Wray, my life changed in ways I could never have predicted.

Nigel had turned 40 that day. All I knew of him from what I had been told was that he was a very successful businessman who loved cricket and rugby and who had one of the great memorabilia collections in the world.

We had exchanged letters and spoken a couple of times over the phone but, other than our written or spoken words, we were strangers.

I had been instructed to call Nigel, ‘Mr Wray’, by the mate, or at least cricket coach in Perth, who had arranged the introduction. “Respect is of paramount importance”, he had often reminded me.

Camera IconNigel Wray, owner of rugby club Saracens. Credit: David Rogers/Getty Images

The common thread between ‘Mr Wray’ and I, was that I wanted to play a season of cricket in England, and ‘Mr Wray’s’ club, the Old Millhillians, were looking for a young overseas player to help them hopefully win a few games.

Plan all set, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought this meeting, this moment, and the thousands of moments since, would become such an integral part in my, and my family’s, lives.

Besides the crunching of the stones under the tyres, barking Alsatians at the gates, and most extraordinary house I had ever seen, it was Nigel himself who surprised me the most.

Extending my nervous 18-year-old, hand to ‘Mr Wray’ in his kitchen, I was taken aback when he laughed saying: Mr Wray? No, no, no, please, my name is Nigel. Calling me Mr Wray makes me feel old.”

Instantly relieved, we have been friends ever since. His humility was comforting. It still is today.