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Tributes paid to teacher and athletics coach Reg Wright

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Teacher and athletics coach Reg Wright, whose long life was devoted to sport in Diss, has died.

“He was a remarkable man – we shall not see his like again,” said Gordon Coe, the current coach at Diss Athletics Club, which Mr Wright helped to establish in 1952.

“He mentored me through my coaching and I am now in his rather large shoes. We would not have a club without him.”

Reg Wright helped to establish Diss Athletics Club in 1952. Picture: Express archive
Reg Wright helped to establish Diss Athletics Club in 1952. Picture: Express archive

A shot-putter, Mr Coe was coached by Mr Wright, whose favourite encouragement, he recalled, was: “Put it on the top shelf”– a reference to the shot’s trajectory.

David Clarke, who succeeded Mr Wright as club president said: “Personally, I was coached by Reg from the age of 11 when I went to Diss Grammar School. Rather than attending swimming lessons, Reg sent me to the sports field to train. ‘Swimming muscles are not good for runners,’ I was told.

“Without Reg’s coaching, I do not think I would have achieved the levels in running that I did. Reg enlisted me as his assistant secretary at the athletics club when I was 16 and I was honoured when he nominated me to take over from him as president in 2008.”

Basil Abbott, a former Diss Grammar School pupil and a chairman of the Old Dysseans organisation for former pupils, said: “Reg was one of the few people I know of who was both a pupil and a teacher at the school.

“He was head boy and played football for the school team, inspired by his favourite player, Arsenal’s centre forward Ted Drake. He was passionate about sport and active with the Old Dysseans until recent years.”

Mr Wright – always known by the abbreviation of his first name – was made an honoured citizen of Diss in the 1990s and received a culture and sports award from the South Norfolk Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Awards.

“He dedicated his life to sport and, in particular, athletics,” civil celebrant Susan Brydon said in the eulogy at his funeral service. “It was not just his job – but a vocation.

“It is no exaggeration to say that thousands of athletes benefited from his enthusiasm and expertise.”

She told the congregation that Mr Wright, who was 94, was born in Diss and, after his schooling, spent four years in the Army with the 8th Signals, completing tours in North Africa and Italy.

He kept up his interest in sports and fitness and, as well as boxing, pictures showed him weight training using tank wheels for weights.

After the Army, he trained at Loughborough College and returned to Diss as PE and geography teacher.

His son, Stuart, recalled that his father got pupils at one geography class to calculate the distances and plot the route for one of the family’s regular holidays on the Costa Brava.

Married to June for 65 years, Mr Wright and his wife made their first home in Diss, then moved to Roydon and finally Stuston, where he was at his happiest enjoying his garden and shed and restoring the boxes and chests he found on his regular visits to the TW Gaze sales at Diss.

“He would often come home with ‘a bargain’ – otherwise known as something that nobody else wanted,” said June.

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Mr Wright is survived by his wife and sons, Grant and Stuart. His funeral service was held last Thursday.

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