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Town mourns 'Mr Brixham' Danny Irvine who dies aged 84

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 14, 2012

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BRIXHAM'S sporting community is coming to terms with the loss of one of its larger-than-life characters following the death of rugby club stalwart Danny Irvine (pictured).

Tributes have been pouring in from his family and rugby friends and rivals for Mr Irvine, who had a 60-year association with Brixham Rugby Club.

You can leave your own tribute by using the comments box at the foot of this article

Mr Irvine, who celebrated his 84th birthday last week, died in Brixham Hospital on Tuesday afternoon with is family at his bedside. He had been fighting cancer for some years.

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Wife Anne said her late husband had a gift for administration which had served him well in every walk of life.

"I was so proud of everything he achieved, not just in rugby but also in the Royal Navy," said Mrs Irvine.

Son James, who has followed his father into rugby administration as director of rugby at Brixham, said simply: "He was the best father you could have."

Brixham Rugby Club chairman Chris Forster said: "He was Mr Brixham in the eyes of the rugby community and had been for a number of years."

It wasn't widely known that Mr Irvine also had a brief spell playing for Brixham's arch rivals Torquay Athletic in the early 1950s.

Chris Edwards, the current Torquay chairman, said rugby had lost a true legend.

Those sentiments were echoed by Paignton's recently retired chairman Paul Dutton, who said: "Danny was a larger than life character and although Brixham through and through, he was always a welcome visitor to our club."

Keith MacLean, the Newton Abbot chairman, first met Mr Irvine when he was refereeing him in a colts game.

"He was a rugby man through and through and I can think of no higher tribute than that," said Mr MacLean.

Mr Irvine's condition deteriorated last week and he was taken into Torbay Hospital for treatment. One of his last wishes was to be taken back to Brixham, his home for 60 years, where he received the last rites from a Catholic priest the day before he died.

Mr Irvine had been a player and then administrator at Brixham RFC from his earliest days in the town as a sailor serving on the fishery protection vessel HMS Squirrel.

He met his wife-to-be Anne in Brixham and the couple were happily married for 58 years.

Serving in the Royal Navy meant long periods away from home. He served in hot spots such as Korea, Indonesia and the Suez Canal, but Mr Irvine never lost touch with the club.

Local postings at BRNC Dartmouth and the Sail Training Centre in Plymouth enabled Mr Irvine to take a full part in Brixham rugby club life, firstly as team secretary in the 1960s then 2nd XV manager.

When he retired from the Royal Navy in 1979 after 32 years' service, coming out with the rank of Chief Petty Officer, Mr Irvine landed a new job with the Dartmouth Harbour Authority as a mooring officer, where he remained until he retired.

Mr Irvine went on to serve Brixham RFC as team secretary, fixture secretary, general secretary and finally president.

A second blow for Brixham's sporting community is the death of one of Mr Irvine's former Brixham team-mates Albert Hoyle, who died aged 90 on Tuesday.

Mr Hoyle played for Brixham between 1946 and 1956 and was the club's oldest surviving player. He was given a standing ovation by members at a past players' lunch only last Saturday.

Mr Hoyle, a building engineer, was one of the driving forces behind the building of Brixham Swimming Pool in the early 1970s. "Without his drive, expertise and enthusiasm I doubt the pool would ever have been built," said Brixham Swimming Club chairman Jeff Green.

Danny Irvine’s funeral will take place at St Mary’s Church, Brixham on Friday, December 21 at 2pm.

Mourners will be invited back to Brixham RFC’s Astley Park clubhouse for a wake.

A private, requiem mass for family and close friends at the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea in the morning.

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