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Farewell to dedicated Racketball champion

PUBLISHED: 15:33 28 January 2009 | UPDATED: 16:04 25 August 2010

DEVOTEE: Ian  Wright.

DEVOTEE: Ian Wright.

HUNDREDS of mourners attended the funeral and wake of a dedicated and eccentric sports enthusiast.

HUNDREDS of mourners attended the funeral and wake of a dedicated and eccentric sports enthusiast.

Creator of English racketball Ian Wright, 74, of Tredegar Road, Wilmington, died playing squash at Bexley Lawn Tennis, Squash and Racketball Club (BLTSR), Bexley Village, on January 4.

His funeral at Hither Green Crematorium last Thursday was attended by friends, family, and sports enthusiasts he met over 50 years devoted to racket games.

A wake was held afterwards at BLTSR, in Parkhurst Road, where photos, articles on Mr Wright and his 28 trophies were displayed in squash court one, where he died.

The former over-70s national racketball champion wrote the rules for the English version of American racquetball and had refereed the game at an international level.

He was instrumental in the growth of BLTSR where spent decades building a reputation as a resolute administrator and fatherly figure to its members.

Squash player Dean Nicholson, 22, of Denver Road, Dartford, took tips from Mr Wright since he stated playing at 11.

The gas board worker said: "He would always give you his time. He used to take the racket off me and show me how to play properly."

However, the 'sports enthusiast' was only one half of Mr Wright's character.

The remarried father-of-two was also an intrepid traveller who visited 94 of the world's 192 countries and toured Australia, Honolulu and Hawaii with his wife, last November.

His interest arose from his national service with the RAF in the 1950s with whom he served in Suez and reached the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

Last year he travelled to Antarctica and received a certificate for plunging into icy waters, and was once evacuated from Mount Etna when it erupted as he was walking up it.

At his wake, Mr Wright's widow, Judy, said: "He was a great companion. We saw life from the same window.

"He always said he wanted to die suddenly on court. I never thought it would actually happen, I thought he would go on forever. It's fantastic that all these people came today, I'm really pleased for Ian. I hope he is up there somewhere looking down on this."

The club, founded in 1880, was chaired by Sir William Hart Dyke, of Lullingstone Castle, Eynsford, who effectively led to the evolution of squash from racquets.

The wooden club house remained the same until the 1980s when Mr Wright became the driving force behind expanding the club by introducing a bar, flushing toilets and new courts.

Alan Thatcher, Chair of Kent Squash and Racketball Association, with whom Mr Wright was secretary for 40 years, announced that the Kent trophies would be dedicated to his late friend, as would English Squash's national awards.

Ian Wright leaves behind two adult daughters, Sally and Deidre.

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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