‘True Sidmothian’ Derek gave 60 years to Sidmouth Rugby Club

Derek Marchant

Derek Marchant - Credit: Archant

More than 400 people remembered a born organiser and ‘true Sidmothian’ who was buried in his Sidmouth Rugby Club jacket with a pack of playing cards.

Derek Marchant with his son Peter, grandson Jack and Exeter Chief player Geoff Parling

Derek Marchant with his son Peter, grandson Jack and Exeter Chief player Geoff Parling - Credit: Archant

Joining as a player aged 17, Derek Marchant gave 60 years of his life to the club, but also found time to be the Sidford Social Hall chairman, a prize-winning gardener, crib player, a carnival devotee and a grandfather of four.

His family said he loved these truly local events.

Derek was born to Emily and Jack – from whom he inherited his skills as an organiser – in Orchard Close in Sidford on January 25, 1940.

He first went to Sidbury Primary School, then on to Woolbrook Secondary Modern School, where he grew keen on sport and was made head boy.

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His after-school job was as a delivery boy, before at 15 joining the gas board – a vocation he would remain in until his retirement at the age of 53.

In 1962, Derek married Sidford girl Carole. They would be wed for 55 years.

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The couple had two children, Fiona and Peter, who each had two of their own, James and Thomas, and Jack and Oliver.

Peter said: “My dad was a true Sidmothian. He loved the valley and lived for the rugby club. He was well admired wherever he went.”

He started playing football as a goalkeeper for Sidbury United before he made the transition to rugby – playing both sports in the same ‘ebullient’ style.

Derek retired to the committee after suffering a knee injury, later becoming the junior section chairman, club chairman and then president.

He led fundraising initiatives for the club from the donkey derby to the FolkWeek campervan parking.

Club chairman Lester Wilmington said: “We will miss our president very much and will honour him properly, as the club only can, when the new season starts in September.”

Derek was buried with a rugby club shirt and a fixture list for next season.

He was the president of the East Devon Carnival Circuit and very active in the Sid Vale club, and he served as the secretary of the Sid Vale Athletics Fete for 40 years.

Some 420 attended his funeral at St Peter’s Church last Friday, July 7, which was followed by a wake at the rugby club.

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