Holroyd Birkett Barker, known as ‘Royd’, born on 10th October 1886, was admitted to King Edward’s School in January 1896. Whilst at School, Holroyd lived in Acocks Green with his parents, Tom and Marianne, and his brother and sister. The family later moved to Hockley Heath, Warwickshire. Tom Birkett Barker was an engineer and a Justice of the Peace.
Holroyd dabbled in athletics during his time at School, placing a “plucky second” in the Under 11 years 100 yards flat race in July 1898. However, golf was Royd’s real passion, which began at the age of 10 when the young golfer would swing his father’s clubs in the family garden, “utilising the peony buds as a kind of captive ball for practising shots. Of course it was bad for the peonies, but good for golf.”
The club’s centenary history, The Story of Olton Golf Club, records that: “Among the many fine players at Olton in the years before the First World War, none was more promising than Royd Birkett Barker.” He achieved the first hole in one ever recorded at the club in September 1907, and also won the Warwickshire Amateur Championship three times. Holroyd was happier with wooden clubs than with irons, and claimed early in 1914 that he was not “a great experimenter with clubs, nor an extravagant purchaser”, preferring to use several heads from among the clubs he originally bought in 1907. Holroyd’s career as a solicitor in Birmingham limited him to playing golf at the weekends, much to the Club’s dismay.
In December 1915, Holroyd enlisted as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery, Special Reserve. He died of malaria on 15th August 1917 in Kalamaria Hospital, Salonika, having reached the rank of Lieutenant. He is buried in Mikra British Cemetery, Greece.
After the end of the war, Holroyd’s father Tom presented a shield to Olton Golf Club in commemoration of Holroyd’s sacrifice.