HUNDREDS of people paid their final respects to a “much loved and respected” rugby club president.
Reg Turner had two great loves in his life first and foremost his family and secondly sport.
Yesterday his loving family, together with hundreds of former team mates, club pals and opposition players, celebrated the life of a “real gentleman”.
Family and friends were left shocked after Reg collapsed and died in the car park of West Hartlepool Rugby Club last month.
Only standing room was available at a packed St Luke’s Church, in Tunstall Avenue, Hartlepool, as those lucky enough to have known Reg looked back on his 81 years.
The Reverend David Webster conducted the service and led the hundreds in singing the hymns Abide With Me and Jersualem.
Young and upcoming players at West Hartlepool Rugby Club joined experienced rugby and cricket campaigners from the town sporting scene who played with and against him.
They heard how Reg’s sporting talents were clear to see from a young age.
His rugby ability saw him earn a place in the Durham side at just 17 years old while on the cricket pitch he once bowled 14 consecutive maiden overs at just 15 years old.
He played at West Hartlepool Rugby Club throughout his career before becoming club chairman. After a stint in America he returned and was soon appointed club president.
Even during his time in the USA he didn’t let rugby pass him by, establishing and involving himself with Bay Area Rugby Club, in Texas.
West Hartlepool Cricket Club was also graced with Reg’s presence as a player and supporter over the years.
But beyond sport, Reg was described as a “wonderful man”.
He leaves behind wife Joyce, his two children Stephen and Susan and three grandchildren.
He had witnessed his West Hartlepool team beat an impressive Chester side just moments before his death.
Former team-mate Alan Harkness addressed the church and told how Reg led by example as a captain.
In a touching address, Ron Greig, a former team-mate, said: “Reg was a real gentleman, loved and respected by young and old.
“Last month, with the satisfaction of victory still in his mind, he gave his friend some money to get a round of drinks in while he walked over to the clubhouse.
“Unfortunately he didn’t make it back.
“As it turned out, it was a touching final gesture from a wonderful man who will never be forgotten.”