Sean O’Neill obituary

<span>Sean O'Neill was a pub quizzer extraordinaire, with particular expertise on questions relating to politics, sport and geography</span><span>Photograph: from family/none</span>
Sean O'Neill was a pub quizzer extraordinaire, with particular expertise on questions relating to politics, sport and geographyPhotograph: from family/none

My friend Sean O’Neill, who has died aged 67 of complications from a bowel blockage, was a master of the pub quiz who became a quizzing international for Wales and a contestant on various radio and television shows.

His most high-profile TV appearance came in 2006 on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, in which he got to the £16,000 stage before failing to correctly answer a question about Joyce Grenfell – which meant that to his chagrin he came away with only £1,000.

However, Sean was most proud of having represented Wales in European and world quiz championships, and he was a member of various winning teams at local and national level – once, for the Beehive pub in Swindon, taking a national championship three years in a row during the 1990s. He was also active in online quizzing.

Noted for his expertise on questions relating to politics, sport and geography, he won some decent prizes through his quizzing over the years, including, on one occasion, an all-expenses-paid trip to the Grand National. But he took part for the love of it rather than for any kind of financial reward.

Sean was born in Hamilton in Canada, the oldest of three children to Welsh parents, Dan, a journalist, and Margaret (nee Lowes), a homeware buyer. Succumbing to “hiraeth”, a homesickness for Wales and Welsh culture, they returned to the UK when Sean was eight, although in the event their work took them to County Durham, where Sean went to Washington comprehensive school before studying international politics and economics at Aberystwyth University in the mid-1970s.

Once he had gained his degree he moved to London to work for British Telecom as a buyer of telephone systems, eventually moving into the world of satellite communications. In 1988 he transferred with BT to Swindon, and it was there that he began to use his vast knowledge of facts and figures in the world of pub quizzing, which was really beginning to take off. It was also in Swindon that he met Mickie Jackson, a teacher, and they married in 1994. He continued to work for BT until 2002, when he set up as a self-employed procurement consultant, before retiring in 2014.

In 2004 he and Mickie had moved to Ludlow in Shropshire, and there Sean stayed involved in quizzing, also writing questions for the Mastermind TV programme at one stage. After some years living in the town he decided to stand for election as an independent councillor, and over two terms ending in 2017 he grew into the role. The flag over the council offices was flown at half-mast after his death.

Sean was a quiet man, a deep thinker yet with calm buoyancy, popular with all who met him and with many friends.

He is survived by Mickie, his sister, Susan, and nieces, Francesca and Elena.