Oxford University Cave Club

Proceedings 10 : "Pozu del Xitu"

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Keith Potter

Keith Potter, 22, died on November 14th 1981, whilst diving in Wookey Hole.

To us in the Oxford University Cave Club and others who knew him, his death remains almost incomprehensible. Not even his funeral, held near his parents' home at Wedmore, really brought home the fact that we would never again see him bounding into the bar during a midweek club meeting, or share his limitless enthusiasm for future trips, be they to Mendip, Yorkshire or Spain.

Keith's contribution to caving, especially in OUCC, was enormous. During the 1980 expedition to Pozu del Xitu, he took part in many vital pushing trips, offering his companions encouragement and showing determination to continue where others were prepared to turn back. In even the most difficult circumstances, he retained his humour whilst remaining absolutely reliable: witness his amusing write-up of a trip in 1981, including in the tackle list his recommendation for spare crotches and limbs - this written after emerging from a 35 hour pushing trip into severe passages in which he sustained a knee injury and suffered agonising friction sores in his groin. Fittingly Keith was the first to reach Xitu's terminal sump and even here despite being tired and thoroughly wet, he showed his character typically, by spending hours searching for a by-pass.

Yet whilst without Keith OUCC might still be trying to bottom Xitu, he never took unnecessary risks: indeed his thoroughness and caution in unexplored passages could frustrate those less experienced team members, carried away with exploration fever.

No amount of fatalistic philosophising can begin to compensate for Keith's death. He was also a man of many talents outside caving: his scholarship in medicine at Exeter College, Oxford was surely the first step towards realising his ambition to become a consultant physician.

Above all he was a tremendous colleague, a companion who will be mourned and missed by his many friends: left only with memories, they can only continue to extend their condolences to his family, and bid Keith 'Hail and Farewell'.

Dave Rose