Thursday, 22 October 2009

Neville England: Obituary

Des Brennan presents Neville England his 2009 Honour Award. Supplied image.

by Jodie Bakewell-White

Neville England was presented with a Yachting New Zealand Honour Award by YNZ Chief Executive Des Brennan at the Christchurch Yacht Club on Friday 9th October.

The Award was kept under wraps, intentionally excluded from the recent Awards announcement, in order for it to be a surprise. Over 100 of his friends gathered to celebrate the Award with him.

Neville Passed away Monday morning 19th October at Christchurch Hospital at the age of 57 years. His funeral will be held at 1.45pm Friday 23rd October at St Andrew’s Church, Rangi Ruru School, Merivale Lane, Merivale Christchurch.

Neville’s involvement and contribution to the sport of yachting over the years has been enormous, continuing with coaching and official positions through until very recently. Tributes and memories have flooded in from the yachting community around New Zealand.

Together with his brother Garry, Neville won the prestigious Junior Cherubs Nationals in 1970 and ’71 in their yacht Rana, sail number 1250. Firstly progressing into the Javelin class, of which his father Hugh was a former National Champion, Neville graduated into the Olympic 470 sailing again with brother Garry.

In 1975 Andy Knowles who placed second in the Olympic trials was without a crew for the pre Olympics in Kingston and the 470 Worlds in Rochester, New York. Neville crewed for Andy in this “no budget” overseas campaign.

Neville continued to sail with brother Garry for a few years, and then encouraged Leslie Egnot into the 470 enticing her with a spot in his brand new boat with Garry. “Without Neville giving me that opportunity I may never have sailed the 470,” says Leslie in retrospect, acknowledging that Neville was instrumental in her transition from the P Class to the 470. Neville then sailed with Jenny Egnot for a short period.

In 1980 Neville and Ian Douglas won the Fireball Nationals and the right to represent New Zealand at the Fireball Worlds in South Africa; this they didn’t due to apartheid issues at the time.

Neville was extremely proud of the sailors he mentored and coached through their early days, including those that went on to represent New Zealand such as Leslie and Jenny Egnot, Shelley Hesson and Mark Milburn.

He also taught his four children to sail, who all remain involved in the sport today. Murray represented New Zealand in the 420 and 18 footer classes, Jacqui is keelboat sailing in Auckland and Geoffrey and Paula are keen Laser sailors.

Neville was a life member of the Christchurch Yacht Club, having served on the Club Committee, and also held the position of Youth Chairman for the Canterbury Yachting Association. He was presented a Yachting New Zealand Regatta Coach certificate in September this year, and he also recently accepted a position on the Yachting New Zealand Junior Classes Committee.

At the recent gathering Neville’s wife Ruth was presented a bouquet of flowers in appreciation of her support to the many visiting sailors billetted at their McCormack Bay home over the years. Ruth is the Secretary of the Canterbury Laser Fleet Association and on the Laser Nationals organising committee.

Neville was looking forward to his eldest daughter Jacqui's wedding on the 5th November in Christchurch, watching Murray sail an 18 footer in Auckland and watching Paula at the Laser Nationals in January. He is survived by wife Ruth and his four children Jacqui, Murray and Geoffrey who live in Auckland and Paula who is attending Otago University.

“Neville has been a great supporter of yachting in Otago for many years. When he ran coaching clinics the kids got more than 100% from them. Even lunchtimes were spent debriefing the morning's efforts.

"On a more personal level we have got to know Neville and Ruth and their family as good friends. They have been very supportive over the years to our daughters, Stacey and Alayne and Alayne spent many weekend as 'another daughter' when she was sailing in her late teens.”
Sue and Vern Hall

“Please pass on Otago's appreciation for the help and support he has given us. I personally would have been still struggling without the great support and advice he has given me over the years. Many thanks from me to him.”
Greg Harrex & Otago Sailing Development

Yachting New Zealand

1 comment:

Dr Gary Griffith said...

Jules, Freya and I were saddened to hear that Neville had passed away. At Macandrew Bay Yacht Club in Dunedin his coaching has been instrumental in developing our junior and youth sailors. He will be deeply missed here in Otago.