MAUREEN HIRON - from games mistress to Games Mistress – and now to
songwriter for founder Boney M member Sheyla Bonnick.
MAUREEN HIRON was a games mistress – head of the physical department at a large London comprehensive school – until part of the school fell on her head – and at the ripe old age of 32 she was pensioned off from teaching.
The future looked bleak. But Maureen, an expert bridge player who has represented England and Britain at bridge, devoted her mental energies to the game, and the thought processes involved penetrated the cloud that enshrouded her damaged brain.
Then a medical phenomenon occurred. Former dormant areas of Maureen’s brain took over the role of the damaged parts, with the result that she was able to reason with the intuitive mind of a child, yet still retain her acquired knowledge and high I.Q. level.
The first manifestation of this came on April Fools Day, 1982. In a blinding flash of inspiration, Maureen invented the first of the games that was to make her name and reputation worldwide.
This was CONTINUO. A game that is a perfect blend of skill and luck. That a five-year-old could play on equal terms with all other ages, providing equal enjoyment to all. That many can play together, yet prove equally pleasing as a solo patience game. That is understood in seconds even by the very young and transcends all language barriers.
That’s a lot of claims for one small game, yet it all proved true.
Maureen Hiron formed a company to manufacture and market CONTINUO. On 1st September 1982, CONTINUO went on sale. Six week’s later it was Britain’s top-selling game and by the end of the year over 200,000 sets had been sold in Britain alone. CONTINUO has been sold in more than 50 countries, sales have passed the six million mark and it is now considered to be a Modern Classic.
CONTINUO was no ‘one game wonder’ for Maureen Hiron. She has now had some 70 games published around the world.
Maureen’s company, HIRON GAMES LTD came to the attention of City of London financiers – possibly because of her high-profiling with the media – she was even the subject of a BBC TV documentary “A WILL TO WIN” – and in the time-honoured phrase, they “made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.’ The idea was that HIRON GAMES LTD would make a reverse takeover of a major UK games company, with a stock market listing.
Maureen’s life, written off by her previous employers, had taken a considerable upturn.
But sadly, tragedy struck again. Maureen was diagnosed with cancer, so her business ambitions couldn’t be brought to fruition, and she needed to expend her considerable energies on ridding herself of the disease.
But even whilst an in-patient at the Royal Marsden Hospital – the world’s first specialist cancer hospital – she continued to invent games. Including CHIP IN, using her fellow patients as guinea pigs, and which her company then produced and used to spearhead the Royal Marsden Hospital’s £25 million appeal – under the then Presidency of Princess Diana.
Maureen Hiron managed to persuade Brian Hitchen, editor of the British national daily newspaper, the DAILY STAR, to back the Marsden’s appeal in a major way.
She even involved the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher in her campaign – happily playing CHIP IN with Mrs Thatcher in her study at 10 Downing Street – while members of the Cabinet kicked their heels downstairs.
Maureen Hiron has not restricted her talents to inventing games. She has written, with her husband Alan, several best-selling books, including THE ULTIMATE TRIVIA QUIZ GAME BOOK, which reached No.2. in the British Bestsellers list. And Maureen also worked on a number of TV shows, including Krypton Factor and Fifteen To One.
In 1990, MAUREEN HIRON was voted LONDONER OF THE YEAR in London Electricity’s Brightening Up London awards.
ALAN HIRON, Maureen’s husband, a bridge World Champion, was the bridge correspondent of THE INDEPENDENT. Alan and Maureen were considered to be the perfect partnership - as opposites – for Maureen was as hyper as Alan was laid back. Maureen proof-read Alan’s newspaper articles and Alan play-tested Maureen’s games.
Sadly, Alan died in 1999 and Maureen’s idyllic world came crashing down. To give herself a reason for getting out of bed each day, Maureen took over from Alan as bridge correspondent to THE INDEPENDENT and also now writes six columns each week for the IRISH INDEPENDENT.
And now – TO MUSIC.
During Maureen’s college days she wrote a children’s operetta that she called CATS – based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Sounds familiar? Well – Maureen did it first.
But music went on the back burner when Maureen got bitten by the bridge bug.
While on a Caribbean cruise at the end of 2011, Maureen met Sheyla Bonnick of Boney M in a lift on MV Braemar. Boney M were the star turn on that cruise and Maureen was the bridge lecturer. There was immediate empathy between them – could be because both had lost their closest girlfriends in the past year.
After the cruise ended Maureen and Sheyla kept in contact and Maureen brought Sheyla and the rest of her Sounds of Boney M troup over to Spain to perform at her 70th birthday bash.
And a roaring success it was too – even though lead singer Sheyla had to sit on a high stool throughout the concert, as her leg was encased in plaster! Just a few days before the party Maureen had enticed Sheyla onto the tennis court. But their game was curtailed when Sheyla partially fractured her Achilles Tendon. (And not to be outdone, Maureen fractured her own a few months later!.)
Having recently renewed her interest in music, Maureen had installed a concert organ which she was teaching herself to play. Sheyla, with her leg in plaster and so a captive audience, was impressed by the pieces Maureen had composed.
Impressed enough to want to do an album with her! And their inspirational album - LOOK BEYOND - in the new musical genre called MATZAR - is now available.