TRIBUTES have been paid to a founding member of a Hereford sports club whose life was cut short after catching coronavirus.
On February 25, members of Hereford Triathlon Club past and present formed a socially distanced guard of honour on the road leading to Hereford Crematorium to say thank you to one of the club’s founders and former chairman Neil Hyett.
Neil was a huge character whose life was cut short far too early. He died with coronavirus.
Neil was brought to the crematorium in the camper van that he loved with his family walking behind. His friends from triathlon, kayaking and cycling lined the approach road wearing club kit, with many on their bikes.
The club aim to present an annual trophy in Neil’s memory.
Chairman Mike Parry said: “Neil and a few friends had a keen interest in keeping fit and competing in various sports; mainly swimming, cycling and running. When the combination of all three was put together the world of triathlon was formed and it wasn’t long before they decided to form a club and train and race competitively. In 1988, Hereford Triathlon Club was created. The tough sport of triathlon attracted more members and the club flourished.
“Neil took a particular interest in attracting new members and encouraged them to not only train but also compete in various events around the country. His warm personality enabled him to attract a wide range of athletes from complete novice through to GB standard.
“Everyone was given the same welcome and support. He took several members under his wing and coached and guided them so they could progress. Many benefited from his dedication to all club members. This continued for decades and even after he moved away, he still had a keen interest in how the club was progressing.
“Neil had a bubbly personality and was a man with a huge heart who was always there to offer support to everyone”
Club secretary Nicola Goodwin said his attitude was best summed up by the club motto: ” a club for people who love triathlon and love Herefordshire.”
“Neil loved sport and loved where he lived,” Nicola said.
“When he and his friends started the club in 1988, they were motivated by a desire to get fit, stay fit, be the best they could be and, above all, to have fun. That is still the ethos that we have today and Neil was really proud that the club had grown to have 250 members and be one of the county’s leading grass roots sports organisations.
“Despite all of the challenges, frustrations, fear and sadness that the pandemic has brought us, we are still loving our sport and loving the friendships that we gain through sports clubs. When this is over, we will be honouring Neil’s memory with a new award for club members. We look forward to swimming, cycling and running in the sun with our friends and laughing, just as Neil would have done.”