The duke's funeral will be a celebration of a fantastic life

The Union flag flies at half mast on top of Buckingham Palace after it was announced that the Duke o

The Union flag flies at half mast on top of Buckingham Palace after it was announced that the Duke of Edinburgh has died at the age of 99 - Credit: PA

The passing of Prince Phillip last Friday, although not a shock, was one of the major announcements that one can expect to hear during a lifetime. 

I happened to turn the TV on before the racing and immediately thought something must have happened before realising the duke had passed away. Everybody will be thinking of the Queen and her family at this time. The funeral is due to take place tomorrow (Saturday, April 17). With Covid restrictions still in place there will be a maximum of 30 in the congregation and I get the feeling that this was not something that was a big issue for the royal family. Although there will be a national television audience it will still be a very private affair for the family as they can have a celebration of a fantastic life. Boris Johnson will not be attending. He has rightly given his place up so another member of the family can attend. The governing bodies of many sports are actively involved in changing their schedules which will mean the nation can pay its respects and watch events unfold on television.

There was a lot of debate about the amount of coverage of his death on national television and I can see both sides of the argument. To have the same programmes on both BBC One and BBC Two was strange but not unexpected in the circumstances. The tribute programme at 9pm was very moving. His four children all spoke about him in the past tense and were all dressed in black. Doing such a programme whilst the subject is still alive must be very difficult, especially when it’s your father that is the person being discussed.

Onto Sidmouth matters. I was having a chat with some locals on the beach last Saturday and we were remarking about how things have changed since the 1970s. One thing I remember clearly is that you always had to watch where you sat because of the tar being around on the beach. And you never saw sand on the main beach like you do now. It was only ever seen at Jacob’s Ladder.

The sport last weekend was exceptional with the highlight being Rachael Blackmore becoming the first woman to ride the winner of the Grand National. She is a talented jockey and her tactical decisions during a race are as good as anyone. She had already ridden the winner of the Champion Hurdle this season and been the leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival. Quite an achievement.

Exeter Chiefs lost to Leinster in the European rugby and they can have few complaints. They will now concentrate on trying to retain their Premiership title. On the football front Exeter City had a fine 4-1 away win at table-topping Cambridge. You never know, they could still get in the playoffs. Personally I was elated that my team, Leeds, won at Manchester City with 10 men!

On the local cricket front, Sidmouth started last Saturday with a win against Clevedon. This match was played without spectators but that all changes now with supporters allowed to attend from this week. And it will be nice to get a pint outdoors along with food after golf and also you can use the showers and changing room. Normality is creeping closer.

Thank you to everyone who has told me about doing the walks I have been recommending. It’s great to know that people are enjoying the wonderful countryside in the area. Exercise and diet have been very prominent in newspaper articles recently and with gyms reopening a lot of people will be keen to shed a few pounds. I take my hat off to everyone who is doing their best to get fitter. The Covid situation has highlighted the importance of general fitness and hopefully this will motivate many people to do a little bit more exercise than they were doing before.

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