A LEADING light in the local sailing scene has died 26 years after undergoing a heart transplant.
Don Terry, 62, passed away earlier this week after cancer spread to his liver after almost 50 years helping the Hastings and St Leonards Sailing Club.
During that time he held a variety of committee positions, including a spell as commodore, and qualified as a yachting and sailing instructor - keen to pass on his skills to future generations.
That included his children, Simon and Sarah, and by the time he died following a short stay at St Michael’s Hospice, there were four generations of his family involved with the sailing club.
According to his long-time best friend John Parmenter, Mr Terry will be hugely missed.
“He dedicated his life to helping others,” Mr Parmenter told the Observer. “Don was well respected and very well liked.
“We had been best friends for 56 years and he was just a lovely, lovely man.” The pair first met at school and went on to develop a shared loved of sailing, becoming a successful racing pair on board their boat, Tantrum.
Back in 1985, Mr Terry was diagnosed with a mayor heart complaint and underwent surgery - with a blizzard almost putting paid to his chances of a bypass.
“I honestly thought that night that we had lost him,” remembers Mr Parmenter. “Thankfully he came through and his new heart was like a new lease of life for him.
“He got back to his boats, sailing the Channel many times as well as making trips to the Mediterranean and to the Canary Islands.
“His last bit trip was in June last year when he took part in the annual Round-the-Island race at the Isle of Wight. Out of 1,700 boats he came in the top third.
“He wasn’t going to let some medical inconvenience get in the way of his sailing.”
Mr Terry, together with his beloved wife Anne, travelled the world, visiting New Zealand, the US and Australia and the 62-year-old also managed to see the birth of his grandchilden and his son Simon receive an MBE from the Queen - something Mr Parmenter said meant the world to him.
Summing up the feeling among the sailing community, Mr Terry’s life-long pal said: “The club and sailing is now poorer - we shall miss him.”
Mr Terry’s funeral takes place at Hastings Crematorium on May 18 from 11am. All are welcome.