Tributes paid to Chris Perkins

21 Oct 2019 15:20 | Devon RFU

DEVON RFU are saddened to learn of the death of former committee member and West Country Hawks Wheelchair Rugby Club founder and coach Chris Perkins.

Chris was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and sadly passed away overnight.

He had been heavily influential in South West rugby for years.

He coached in Bude and Cornwall and then ran the South West England Rugby Academy in north Devon.

After that he worked with Plymouth Albion on their award-winning Active Albion scheme, which was set up with the aid of Sportsmatch in 2005. That scheme, that took rugby and healthy eating into nearly every school in Plymouth, was a runner-up in the 2006 Sportsmatch Awards which were held at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

Working with the Salvation Army and Plymouth Albion, Chris also managed the ‘We Can Project’ project for disadvantaged adults based in Plymouth. It was through this that he started working with disabled people and got interested in wheelchair rugby.

Along with Rob Masters, Chris helped to set up the South West’s first wheelchair rugby team. Rob and he raised enough funds to purchase eight wheelchairs and a trailer and the West Country Hawks were born in 2009. The club has since gone from strength to strength.

Chris continued his involvement in the Hawks and helped launched a partnership with the University of Plymouth. He also helped put many people in Devon get through RFU coaching courses.

RFU regional development officer Rob Masters, who had known Chris for more than 20 years, said: “I am really saddened. I like him as a person and enjoyed working with him. He did a lot for rugby and I send my condolences to his family and friends.”

Rob was full of praise for the work Chris did with the wheelchair rugby club.

“He worked really hard on that,” he said. “We went from having no wheelchair rugby at all in the South West to having a very successful club. It was a really big achievement and he did a massive amount of work.”

Devon RFU chairman Geoff Simpson added: “I would like to pay tribute for all the work Chris did over many years, particularly in the student and university sector.

“He was involved in setting up the South West England Rugby Academy before it became the Exeter Chiefs Academy and was employed for a time by the RFU. When that ended through lack of funding he continued working in the game as a volunteer and did some really important work.”

His funeral will take place at St Olaf's Church, Poughhill, near Bude, on Friday, November 8, at 12noon and will be followed by a celebration of his life at Bude Golf Club.