Farewell to Olympic Reg

BRIGHTLINGSEA came to standstill as it said its last goodbye to Olympic sailing hero Reg White.

Hundreds of mourners filled All Saints Church and its graveyard as family and friends paid their respects to the 74-year-old who died suddenly of a heart attack.

Mr White, who was born and bought up in the seaside town, won a gold medal for Britain in the Tornado class with his brother-in-law John Osborn in 1976.

The pair’s success was followed by a massive reception in Brightlingsea for their homecoming which was mirrored yesterday as the funeral cortege set off from the family’s home in Seaview Road, following the same route, as well-wishers lined the streets.

After a cremation service, mourners packed All Saints church with around 200 others listening to the service on speakers in the churchyard.

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The congregation sung hymns, including Jerusalem and How Great Thou Art, and Mr White’s daughter-in-law Suzi read from Mark’s gospel.

Mr White, a father-of-four, also won the Tornado world championship in 1976 and 1979, and the International Catamaran Challenge Trophy - also know as Little America’s Cup - a record five times between 1963 and 1968.

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He began a boat building apprenticeship with James and Stone after leaving school and eventually had his own business, Sailcraft.

Mr Osborn told the congregation that Mr White was his best friend, adding: “He was more than just my brother-in-law, we were mates and he always had a great time whenever we were together.

“Reg loved life and he’s going to be truly missed by all of his family and friends.”

He told how Mr White loved curry and how the pair agreed in the build-up to the Olympics that they would treat themselves to one if they won.

“So we weren’t racing for a title or for cups, we were actually racing for a curry,” he said to laughter from the packed church.

He told of Mr White’s pride in his 13 grandchildren and his love for his three sons, Robert, David and Mark, and his daughter Sallie.

Mr Osborn’s voice cracked with emotion as he described Mr White’s wife of 55-year Lyn as “Reg’s fiery dragon”, adding: “Lyn was the true love of Reg’s life.”

A reception was held at Brightlingsea Sailing Club after the service.

Donations in memory of Mr White, who was awarded an MBE by the Queen after his Olympic success, will be given to the RNLI.

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