Family's tribute to 'generous' man who played badminton for England

Neil Evans Gorleston

Neil Evans, the first Norfolk person to play badminton for England, has died in Australia at the age of 48. - Credit: Submitted

Tributes have been paid after the death of a "kind and generous" man who was the first person from Norfolk to play junior badminton for England.

Neil Evans, from Gorleston, died on June 27 in Sydney, Australia, four years after being diagnosed with melanoma, a type of skin cancer. He was 48-years-old.

Born in 1972 to parents Wendy and Stan, by the time he was five-years-old he was already playing badminton.

Neil Evans, at 15-years-old, wearing his England badminton team tracksuit.

Neil Evans, at 15-years-old, wearing his England badminton team tracksuit. - Credit: Submitted

His father had played for Tottenham Hotspur FC and Neil must have inherited some of those sporting genes because he also played football, tennis, cricket and golf.

When he was 15, he was the first person from Norfolk selected to play badminton for the England junior team.

Neil Evans clipping EDP

A report from the EDP on February 16, 1988, when 15-year-old Neil Evans was called up to play badminton for the England junior team. - Credit: Archant

He competed at under-15 and under-16 levels, travelling all over the country and to Ireland and the Netherlands, winning the under-16 All England boys doubles title.

Unfortunately, a serious ankle injury when he was 17 cut short his badminton career.

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Neil had attended Cliff Park Junior and High Schools and before going to university - at Loughborough, where he would study banking and finance - he took a year off and travelled to Australia.

He never forgot the place and in 2004 emigrated there, where he worked in banks, becoming division director of Macquarie.

In 2017, he was diagnosed with melanoma.

Neil Evans, from Gorleston, with his partner Sonia Nazaretian.

Neil Evans, from Gorleston, with his partner Sonia Nazaretian. They travelled to Europe together after Mr Evans was diagnosed with melanoma. - Credit: Submitted

Two years later, knowing there was no cure, he travelled with his partner Sonia Nazaretian around Europe for three months, and also visited family in England.

In May this year, his mother Wendy and his sister, Carina Rowswell, visited Neil in Australia.

His mother wanted to thank Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth, and his assistant Thomas Allen, for helping them get permission to travel.

She said: "Neil had so many friends all over the world. He was very likeable, well thought of, kind and generous."

Before he died, Neil was setting up a charitable trust in his name to raise money for those people unable to afford the cost of expensive drugs and this legacy will continue through his partner, family and friends.

His family has also set up a fundraising page with Melanoma UK in gratitude for all the support given to Neil and the family during the past four years. The page can be seen at:





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