Letchworth Rugby Club rocked by death of two huge and well-loved stalwarts

Letchworth Rugby Club's Graham Walker with Kyran Bracken

Letchworth Rugby Club's Graham Walker with former England international Kyran Bracken. - Credit: LETCHWORTH RFC

Letchworth Rugby Club have been rocked to the core after the deaths of two of their most popular members.

Letchworth Rugby Club team photo 2016

Letchworth Rugby Club team photo, October 2016. Back row: Kieran Davies (assistant player coach), Dylan Parsons, Patrick Allen, Ben Cullen, Oscar Robinson, Conor Turner, Kyle Hughes, Richard Stokes, Dave Hatch, Thomas Wilcox, Joe Allinson, Philip Amuimuia, James Eliaschewsky, Hem Johal, Mike McKay (team manager), Emily McCarthy (physio). Front: Liam Fits (assistant coach), Lewis Waters, Harry Chater, Ian Matthews (head coach), Graham Walker (director of rugby), Brian Burke (president), Chris Lunnon (chairman), Graham Steele (immediate past president), Francis Denny, Arun Johal. - Credit: DANNY LOO

Graham Walker, who was a former captain and chairman at Legends Lane as well as a past Herts RFU county president, died after a long fight against cancer, and that was followed a day later by the news that ex first-team player, coach and referee Miles Lewis had passed away from coronavirus.

Walker had been associated with the club from the mid 70s but after serious injury in his 20s, he was told never to play the game he loved.

Not for the first time though he defied medical opinion and went on to feature for another 20 years, captaining both first and second teams in a hugely successful era for the club.

He also coached Hertfordshire in the County Championship before returning to Letchworth and rebuilding the club which had slipped into the doldrums.

Under his astute chairmanship the club were promoted twice, reaching London One, one level below the national leagues, where they stayed for over 12 years.

The honour of holding the office of county president for two years came in 2014.

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Outside of rugby he was a highly successful and decorated police officer and was involved not only in the aftermath of both the Hatfield and Potters Bar rail crashes but also the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, an experience he said which “would defy all belief".

When diagnosed with Myeloma, a cancerous blood disorder, Graham again fought it with a vengeance, living a full and active life way beyond what the medics believed possible.

However, that fight ended as he died in the arms of his beloved wife Jo in Cambridge's Addenbrookes Hospital.

Miles Lewis meanwhile came through the ranks of the minis and juniors at Legends Lane and played for the first 15 as a strong running and hard-tackling centre.

A knee injury forced premature retirement but rather than walk away from the sport, he picked up the whistle and coaching manual, roles he enjoyed for 25 years.

He was also a much loved and respected science and games teacher at Samuel Whitbread Academy in Shefford and then Stockwood Park Academy in Luton.

The school are planning a garden of remembrance in his honour and as one Letchworth club member said: “You always knew when Miles was about as he simply lit up the room."

Club president Brian Burke said “To lose both Graham and Miles so shortly after the passing of Peter Marsden has been a truly great blow to the club and to all who knew and loved them.

"We extend our condolences and love to members of both families. For Graham, that is his wife Jo and sons, Michael and Paul, and for Miles, wife Yo and children Harry and Freya.

"You can be sure that both lives will be truly celebrated later this year when the relieving of restrictions allow."

Both families and the club have thanked all those who have sent messages of condolences from far and wide, and especially Hitchin, Royston, Stevenage Town and Welwyn rugby clubs.