Members of Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club paid tribute to one of the club’s most colourful and best-loved characters on Saturday.
A minute’s silence and a minute’s applause for the seemingly ever-smiling Gerry Lowden — who lost his battle to pancreatic cancer last Thursday — had been preceded by some glowing tributes at the pre-match lunch, which ultimately sparked some emotional scenes.
Ted Cockayne, a former president at the club and a good friend of Gerry’s led the eulogies off saying: “He retired from teaching at the age of 59 and he did not give up playing rugby until the age of about 68.
“He kept himself fit by running and cycling and two years ago, when he was president of this club, and at the age of 77, he took part when members of the club did a cycle ride from Ermenonville in France to Bury St Edmunds to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the air disaster.
“I thought he was a superman, but then about a year later cancer of the pancreas came calling.
“Gerry coped with it extremely well. When he could do so he continued to come down to the club to take part in Phil Torkington’s working parties on Monday mornings. And he came to these lunches.”
He added: “In the end his body let him down. But he was a superb clubman and a great advert, I think, for amateur rugby at its best.”
Club chairman of the past five years, Mike Robinson, said: “He was a man who always had a fantastic smile on his face, always had time for people and there is a word that is often over-used, and that word is ‘legend’, but Gerry truly was a legend of this club and a legend of life.
“If you look at Facebook, the number of comments and the fantastic words that have been spoken really show how much Gerry was loved by this club.
“One of the things that stands out is that he was always smiling and always happy. And that is something he was an inspiration to us all over.
“Ted talked about the bike ride at 77 and for that man to achieve a 350-mile bike ride was absolutely incredible and inspired so many others to carry on when they were feeling that maybe they should be giving up.
“So he was an inspiration to us all.”
Former member and supporter Alan Birrell, who leaves behind four sons and three grandchildren playing at The Haberden, also recently passed away.
“The legacy he left us was a great family,” said Robinson.