Tributes after sports fan Stephen dies in China

IPSWICH: Family and friends have paid tribute today to a keen hiker from the town who tragically died while working in China.

Stephen Everett, of London Road, was just 45 when he died of a heart attack while on a visit to Beijing.

He had been running his own business in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province in north west China.

Although born in Surrey, he moved with his family to Ipswich in 1984, where his father had been born and brought up.

Mr Everett, who had an undiagnosed heart condition, developed a love of south east Asia during his history and politics degree at Manchester University.

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He took a course in Mandarin in 1990 before going with Voluntary Service Overseas to teach English at Gansu University, in China.

Mr Everett fell in love with the country and decided to set up his own import/export agency there called Action Northwest, which he ran from 1995 until his death on July 18.

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His brother, Ian, of Bell Close, said “He very much enjoyed living out there.

“He loved the mountains and all the old unspoilt areas, so that was why he picked that location.

“He was also a really sporty guy. He had been keen on athletics since he was a youngster and used to do lots of cross-country running at school.

“He used to go up into the mountains on his own on hiking expeditions. He even went hiking on a glacier and actually slept up there, which you can only do if you are tough enough and have all the right equipment.

“But he also loved eating and drinking, so China was definitely the place to be because he loved all the banquets they had over there.”

As well as being a self-taught engineer and acting as an agent between Chinese manufacturers and European companies, Mr Everett was a keen traveller and ventured into places like Pakistan and Tibet, at a time when it was difficult for foreigners to travel there.

Business associate and friend Barry Williams, of Hixon, in Staffordshire, also said: “Steve was down-to-earth and hard-working, and he just lived a simple life in China.

“He was as fit as a fiddle, but he was always running and training, and in his spare time, he was always up hiking in the mountains – that’s why he settled in Lanzhou.

“Steve was a nice guy and a true English gentleman.”

His body has already been repatriated to England and his funeral service is to take place on Friday at Castle Hill United Reformed Church, at 1.45pm.

n Did you know Mr Everett and do you want to pay your tributes to him? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or send us an e-mail to

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