TRIBUTES have been paid to a rugby stalwart who “strove tirelessly” to promote the game across Somerset.

John Garland, 96, died peacefully at The Rosary nursing home in Bridgwater on June 9.

Members of Bridgwater & Albion RFC and the Somerset County Rugby Football Union were saddened to learn of his death.

Albion president Mike Berry, who had known John nearly 50 years, said: “John Garland was a stalwart of the game on the club and county scene throughout the West-Country, and in the game generally he was acknowledged as an efficient and very wise administrator.

“He had both the club and county fortunes at heart, and strove tirelessly to promote the game.

“I’ve served with him in various capacities in club terms and have followed in his footsteps as far as Somerset is concerned.

“His wide contact net brought considerable benefit to the club and even in recent times he kept an eye on the club’s activities and was always able to offer very wise counsel to steer the club through some difficult moments.

“He has spent a lifetime with the game, and his involvement and experience have been invaluable to others following behind. He’ll be sadly missed.”

John had been connected with the Bridgwater club since 1948 when he moved to the area from Monmouthshire to take up his career-long post as the local National Farmers Union secretary/agent.

He joined Albion initially as a player, but soon became invol-ved in the administration of the club.

He also linked up with Somerset, and served club and county in numerous roles for many years.

He served Albion in many capacities as secretary, fixtures secretary and chairman, and fittingly he was appointed president for the club’s centenary season in 1975-76 and extended that role until 1978.

He was a trustee of the club for many years and a life member.

He was instrumental in establishing the then new clubhouse at the Broadway ground in 1963 and for Bridgwater to pioneer floodlit games – the first club south of Bristol to do so – a year later.

For many years John lived in the Nether Stowey/Over Stowey area, but after the death of his wife a few years ago he moved into a retirement home in Bridgwater from which he could be seen around town on his mobility scooter.

He is survived by his son, Robert, who followed him into the NFU, and daughter, Jan.

His funeral will be held at Nether Stowey church tomorrow (Wednesday) at noon, and afterwards everyone is invited back to Bridgwater & Albion RFC.

Donations will be accepted for Bridgwater & Albion Friends and there will be family flowers only.