Hertfordshire RFU remember the 'lust for life and rugby' of their former president and Letchworth stalwart Graham Walker

Herts RFU president Graham Walker and Datchworth captain Tom Wood

Graham Walker, seen presenting the Presidents' Tankard to Datchworth captain Tom Wood in 2016, was president of the Herts RFU between 2014 and 2016. - Credit: KEVIN LINES

Hertfordshire RFU has paid tribute to a well-respected and loved former president.

Letchworth Rugby Club's Graham Walker held the office for two years from 2014 but died after a long fight with cancer.

Penned in collaboration by David Williams and Welwyn Rugby Club president Mark Elliott, the county remembers someone with a "lust for life and rugby".

They said: "Graham’s early days of club rugby were at Shelford before he joined Letchworth for a distinguished career as player, coach, administrator and all-round inspiration.

"No stranger to setbacks he was told he would never play again in the mid 70s after he broke his neck but, not for the last time, he defied the odds to play for another 20 years, captaining both the first and second teams.

"In 1994, during his last season as club captain, he took up the reigns as club coach for three years. Moving into club administration he was chairman for seven years, during which time he revitalised Letchworth’s fortunes.

"Graham first became involved with Hertfordshire in 1991 when Daryl Hayler invited him to join the county clubs committee and he swiftly moved on to the coaching committee the next year before being appointed coach to the County Championship squad in 1995.

"He served as coach and selector for the next 11 years during which the foundations of the county’s recent success were laid.

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"During his time, Hertfordshire reached the semi-final of the County Championship Plate in 2000 and then went on to win the County Championship Shield on their first visit to Twickenham in 2005.

"In 2012 Graham’s services to Hertfordshire rugby were recognised when he was elected vice president and he began his two-year term as president in 2014.

"Following his term in office, his sage advice was used in setting up the county’s leadership academy in 2017 where he acted as a mentor in the first year.

"Graham had a highly successful police career, though this too had its share of trauma as he was involved in tragedies such as the Potters Bar train crash, the Kings Cross underground bomb and forensic examination of the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami.

"While vice president of Herts RFU, Graham had his first brush with cancer but proved you can fight the dreaded illness and lead not just a normal but a super-normal life.

"He stated on many occasions that the support from the family of rugby helped him in this effort.

"Last February, at one of the last matches at Letchworth before the COVID-19 pandemic, he was presented with a cap for lifetime achievement at the club and more recently he attended the first club functions during the lockdown breaks.

"Even in the last month or so, while in hospital, he continued to send upbeat e-mails and texts to his friends.

"Graham’s lust for life and rugby, as well as his indomitable spirit, will be remembered and savoured by all who knew him.

"Our thoughts go to his wife Jo, all his family and all his friends at Letchworth and in the wider rugby community."

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