Bury mourns rugby legend and memorable teacher

Gerry Lowden , left, with rugby union England star Billy Vunipola. Photo by Shawn Pearce
Gerry Lowden , left, with rugby union England star Billy Vunipola. Photo by Shawn Pearce
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Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club is mourning one of its legends following the death of former president Gerry Lowden.

He joined the club in 1965, a year after he moved to the area, and watched his last match there two weeks before he died last Thursday at the age of 79 from pancreatic cancer.

Then president Gerry Lowden led the cyc;lists home on the 2014 40th anniversary air crash memorial ride

Then president Gerry Lowden led the cyc;lists home on the 2014 40th anniversary air crash memorial ride

The club spells his name Jerry, but to his family he is Gerry. His son Simon said: “He was one of the fixtures down there – the legend of Bury Rugby Club. He’s done every job there – player, coaching, president and chairman.”

Gerry and Chris Tilbrook started mini-rugby there, and Simon said : “I’m 49 and when I was eight years old I started playing mini rugby down there with him with 10 kids – now it’s nearly 300.”

Gerry, from Rougham, was chairman from 1981 to 1983 and president from 2012 to 2015. He even took part in the 2014 air crash memorial ride to Paris at the age of 76.

He was a teacher, first at Silver Jubilee School and then at County Upper, where he started the design technology department, from which he retired in 1996.

His wife Janet said: “There are families in the town where he taught the grandfather, father and son.

“Everything he did revolved around his hands. When he was a young teacher he would go to the big stores in London, look at the furniture then come home and make it.”

Gerry also leaves a daughter Tara and four grandchildren.

Our Thursday web story of his death brought praise for him as a teacher and rugby man.

Alan Turner wrote: “What a true legend Gerry was. I first met him when I was a colt and I always had time for him and he always had time for everyone else.”

Ian Curry said: “He taught me at school (design tech where I built a scrum machine), he made sure I got home on many occasions, he didn’t criticise when we didn’t play well – a good bloke. I raise a glass to you.”

His funeral will be at Rougham Church on February 20 at 11.15am followed by a wake at the rugby club at 1pm.