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Well-known rugby club founder dies

PUBLISHED: 15:24 28 November 2019 | UPDATED: 15:53 28 November 2019

Wymondham Rugby Club founder Stan Kelly in 2012. 
For EDP Norfolk
EDP pics © 2012
(01603) 772434

Wymondham Rugby Club founder Stan Kelly in 2012. For EDP Norfolk EDP pics © 2012 (01603) 772434

Archant

A man, who grew a rugby club from borrowed shirts to one of the largest sports hubs in Norfolk, has died.

Left to right, Front:  Marty Jermyn (senior player), John Simms (founder member), Stan Kelly (founder member), Connor Jermyn (mini player). Back :  John Mackay (chairman), Chris Williams (president), Shay Good (founder member), Martin Crook (past president)Left to right, Front: Marty Jermyn (senior player), John Simms (founder member), Stan Kelly (founder member), Connor Jermyn (mini player). Back : John Mackay (chairman), Chris Williams (president), Shay Good (founder member), Martin Crook (past president)

Stan Kelly, 95, was one of the founding members of Wymondham Rugby Club, and grew the club from the ground up into a giant of Norfolk rugby.

Following his death, Mr Kelly's friends and family have paid tribute to a man who "always saw the best in people", and created a vision which would progress rugby in Wymondham and beyond.

Born in 1924 in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, Mr Kelly spent his childhood studying at the local grammar school, having won a scholarship.

The adventurous young man went on to serve in the air force, training as a fighter pilot in what was then called Rhodesia, making lifelong friendships and navigating crash landings.

Stan Kelly, founder of Wymondham Rugby Club, at a recent event. Photo: Wymondham Rugby ClubStan Kelly, founder of Wymondham Rugby Club, at a recent event. Photo: Wymondham Rugby Club

On his return to the UK Mr Kelly qualified as a teacher, and in 1962 he moved to Norfolk to take on the role of head at Buxton County Primary School.

Six years later he became the first head teacher of Robert Kett Middle School in Wymondham, and together with his wife Margaret, moved into a "forever home" on Norwich Road.

It was here that the former prop-forward joined forces with John Sims, the head at Wymondham College, to found the club in 1972.

But according to current chairman Andrew Kilby, the club took some time to take off.

He said: "When they started it was with borrowed pitches and borrowed shirts - now we're a club of 1,400 members and that all started with Stan's vision. "Rugby in Norfolk owes him a great deal. It's been an enormous privilege to meet Stan in recent years. He never lost touch with the club and has helped us celebrate our milestones as we grew."

The father-of-two has been described as "a loving, devoted family man".

His son, John Kelly, said: "Dad touched many peoples' lives over his 95-year shift - as his association with Wymondham Rugby club and Robert Kett School shows. The family have been so touched by expressions of sympathy from near and far."

Mr Kelly's funeral will take place at St Faith's Crematorium at 11.45am, on Friday, November 29.

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