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Remembering Chris

The club recently lost Chris Riches, a long standing and much loved member of our club and also of Tetbury Royals and Flying Monk. Below are the words of two members who like so many of us felt privileged to have known him and greatly saddened by his death.

Jill Hadland tells us about the funeral

Chris’s funeral was held at the Malmesbury Abbey on the 8th of November and it was very well attended - testimony to what a highly respected and much loved person he was. It was a beautiful service that he himself had planned. He used a Desert Island Discs theme, whereby he chose 6 pieces of music, snippets of which were played to the congregation, and his son Tom spoke Chris's words explaining his choice of songs. His daughters had both written loving eulogies to their dad that they bravely read out. His wife Pat's words were read out by her sister. Chris was very much a family man and his family served him proudly at his farewell service. We also heard lovely tributes from some of his close friends. All in all, as sad as it was, it was also a wonderful celebration of Chris's life. The words on the cover of the Order of Service capture his philosophy on life: 'Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened' (Dr Seuss).

Chris was one of the most inspirational people I have ever met and my life has been considerably enriched by the impact he has had on me.

Paul Barlow shares his memories and his sadness:

Last week was a celebration of the life of my dear friend Chris, on the far left of the first photo, at a packed out Malmesbury Abbey after the most courageous 4 year battle with cancer. A beautiful venue for a true hero, a man I loved and respected so much.

Our in joke was that I'd call him Dad and he'd call me son :-) I met Chris when I first joined Cirencester Athletic Club in 2004, he told me about a sister club, the Tetbury Royals, I went along with him. We'd meet at the stunning Westonbirt Arboretum in the summer and not so spectacular Tetbury Leisure Centre in the winter on a Thursday night, I'd start off with everybody and then tear off on my own only to meet up at the end and go for a pint at a nearby local pub. We'd also do the same after the Ciren AC session on a Tuesday to either Somewhere Else or latterly the Marlborough Arms. I still remember Chris overtaking and beating me at Ascot-Under-Wychwood back in 2004, he did it discretely so as not to upset me, I called after him "good on you mate". He beat me again at the Fairford 10k in his bearded years, again passing the inexperienced me in the last 2 miles, grrrrrr! Actually neither of those races are on Power of 10, so they didn't happen okay ;-) :-)

He always spoke so fondly and very often of his beautiful loving family, he also shared tales of his younger days. I confided in him over a beer numerous times. I loved taking the mickey out of his tales about acting, "Shakespere by a Noel Edmunds tribute act" :-) lol. His commitment to running and more recently triathlon was immense, true dedication. When he finally got his over 60 Great Britain place it was thoroughly deserved. Heartbreakingly he couldn't compete due to an injury / unknown health issue, after months of uncertainty he was later diagnosed with cancer and it was terminal, it is so cruel, makes me cry every time I think about it. Every step of the way he expressed his feelings, informed everybody about his illness and what was happening to his body.

He bravely still competed at triathlon for the Malmesbury Flying Monks for whom he was chairman. Then when he wasn't well enough to run he'd still swim with absolute determination to fight his fight to the end. Always with relenting positivity, up to and including his last facebook post days before he passed. If I have 1 percent of Chris's courage I'll take that. When I faced my bowel operations in July and October last year, I gained courage from thinking about what Chris was going through. Chris also gave me invaluable advice and support through my hard times since 2012 with the situation with Kanna.

I shared a love of birds with Chris, he loved swifts and told me when they'd arrived and again when they'd migrated, cheers mate. Swifts will always remind me of you, they are fast, agile and never stop. I've cried so much over the past 10 days, we knew it was coming but it's still so massively sad. Time to use some of your positivity mate, you had it in spades.

You will live long in all the people that loved you, your influence has made me a better person, you will live on in the way you made such a positive impact on so many people's lives. The world is a much better place for having had you in it. "Once a Royal always a Royal" Rest in peace Chris, I mean 'Dad'.

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