Obituary: Artur Sepp (1922-2017)
28th July 2017
A leading figure in the development of volleyball in England has passed away at the age of 95. Born in Saaremaa in Estonia in 1922, Artur (Arthur) Sepp first came to England in 1947. A founding member of the London Estonian Sports Club, Artur was also instrumental in establishing Battersea Estonians VC.
The club would go on to become Brentwood Estonians and then Essex Estonians; a name which still lives on now as part of the Team Essex stable of National League sides.
When Russia invaded Estonia in 1944, Artur left his homeland but would spend the next three years as a refugee in a ‘displaced persons camp’ in Germany before reaching England.
In 2003, he was presented with the Order of the White Star, an award bestowed in recognition of services rendered to the Estonian state. In Artur’s case, it was awarded for keeping Estonian traditions alive in Great Britain.
Artur had a huge enthusiasm for the sport – as a player and supporter - and was present when the first Great Britain team participated in the Western European Championships. He accompanied the squad and was also a part-sponsor of the trip. A great friend to all the players, he was a regular presence at many major events up and down the country, often with his much-loved glass of red wine.
Toomas Ojasso, whose father co-founded the Estonian Sports Club with Artur, said: “Artur was the person who introduced me to volleyball, which at that time in England was played predominantly by East European refugees and the American Air Force. I remember being taken to Battersea Park as a very young child, seeing all these ‘old’ men playing a game with a ball over a net on a hard surface court.”
The development of volleyball had clearly come as just as much of a surprise to the local council whose paperwork referred to them as having rented out a single netball court.
Keith Nicholls, acting President of Volleyball England, added: “I first started playing in 1965 and I remember Artur well from playing against him and the Estonians in the early days of the National League. He was so enthusiastic for the sport and a real gentleman.”
Artur’s funeral takes place on Wednesday August 2nd at Hither Green Crematorium.