Tributes flood in to superfit Great Yarmouth rugby player, 35, who died suddenly at home

THE family of a superfit rugby player whose sudden death has shocked a close-knit Great Yarmouth community said this week they were overwhelmed and heartened by the kindness of well-wishers.

A constant flow of messages playing warm tribute to “gentle giant” James Fogg have been pouring in via social networking sites, cards and phone calls following his tragic death at home in the early hours of Saturday.

The 35-year-old, who had complained of dizziness the day before but had apparently recovered, stayed up late on Friday watching TV at home in Cobholm, but died during the night.

His body was found in the morning outstretched on the sofa as if asleep by his wife Teresa and six-year-old son Ashley. Despite her desperate attempts to revive him he was pronounced dead at the scene.

This week Mr Fogg was described as a man whose presence and smile filled a room.

His life revolved around being with his wife and son and enjoying big family holidays with a dozen or more close relatives to destinations like Turkey, Tunisia, and Egypt.

His mother-in-law Pauline Smith said: “He adored his wife and child - absolutely lived for them. He was a such a humble person and never wanted the attention on himself. He was solid as a rock, a shy person with a huge heart.”

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Tearful Mrs Fogg, 42, said she was touched by the rallying support of neighbours, friends and her husband’s chums at Broadland- Great Yarmouth Rugby Football Club where he had been an enthusiastic member for around eight years, rarely missing training and always turning out to watch even if injury stopped him from playing.

The shocking suddenness of his death was devastating, she added, especially given his healthy lifestyle and text book diet of brown rice and pasta, even passing over guilty treats on holiday.

But the many kind things people were saying about what he meant to them and how popular he was was bringing some comfort, making her proud of the man she married less than a year ago.

The support from neighbours in Olive Road where the family live had been amazing she added, other mums helping out with childcare and coming round with steaming pots of curry.

Mr Fogg went to work as a handyman at Caesars Bar on Yarmouth seafront as usual on the day he died, the Royal Wedding bank holiday Friday.

That evening he was full of excitement having already packed his case for the next big family jaunt to Turkey later this month - always the highlight of his year and one the whole extended family would plan together.

A big fan of 80’s music and Clint Eastwood movies Mr Fogg loved outdoor life and was in his element hosting family barbecues. He enjoyed his garden and was keeping a watchful eye on his tomato plants.

He will be buried in a bamboo coffin, chiming with his love for the plant which he grew at home. It will be carried by rugby team mates who asked to be pall bearers as a final poignant tribute.

Floral tributes will also contain a bamboo motif.

Mr Fogg who hails originally from Oldham, Lancashire, and remained passionate about the football club there, met his wife 14 years ago. The couple married at Ferryside last year and were due to celebrate their first wedding anniversary in June. He loved Yarmouth life and bringing up his son close to the beach, even adapting to the switch from rugby league to rugby union that came with the move down south. An only child his parents are too ill to attend the funeral on Thursday. Mrs Fogg’s sister Hazel Lawes and her husband Adam were among those rallying to help this week. “We laugh together, we hurt together,” Mr Lawes said.

The club aims to remember his contribution with a memorial event. Asa Morrison chairman of Broadland-Great Yarmouth Rugby Football Club said the club was greatly saddened by the death of “Foggy - our friend from the North” at such a young age.

He said: “James (Foggy) will be missed by all at his rugby club. He was a proud Northerner, a fiercely competitive and hard running second row, in contrast he was a quiet and gentle giant off the pitch. He was well liked by other players and never a bad word to say about anyone.

“The club is considering a number of different options for holding an annual memorial event for James and we hope to be able to make an announcement shortly. Our thoughts are with James’ family at this difficult time.”

The funeral is on Thursday at noon at Gorleston Crematorium followed by a wake at Caesars Bar.