Tributes to Great Yarmouth fitness coach

A BORN and bred Great Yarmouth great grandfather who helped spread fitness among youngsters – and introduced yoga to the borough – has died at the age of 85.

Father-of-four Bill Eccleston died on Saturday following a three-year fight against prostate cancer, at his home in Priory Gardens surrounded by his family.

Having spent nearly all of his life in the town, he is likely to be best remembered for his long-standing links with the local branch of the Physical Culture Club (PCC), with whom he moved on from being a keen pupil to a dedicated instructor.

His wife Phyllis, 84, married him in 1949. He had proposed to her two weeks after they first met at a local dance while she was on holiday from her home in South Wales.

She described him as a modest, humble man, and said: “He was everyone’s friend, and, if he could help someone, then he would. He definitely wasn’t one to brag.”

Mr Eccleston joined the Physical Culture Club, then based on Deneside, at a young age and was an accomplished middleweight boxer who won all his bouts at Britannia Pier.

Having kept the club going with Dickie Hill into the early years of the second world war, he joined the Navy as a petty officer, returning after war service.

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After marrying Phyllis, he set up a plumbing business, which he ran until his retirement aged 70.

Over this time he could be found putting on gymnastic shows with the PCC, where he ran the boys’ section, drawing large crowds at places like Caister Holiday Camp.

And as well as half a century’s loyal service to the club, he is believed to be the first to start yoga classes in the mid 1960s.

He was involved in the Great Yarmouth Sports Council since its foundation and was a long-standing member of Yarmouth Swimming Club.

Additionally, he was one of Henry McCarthy’s Crazy Gang, putting on aqua shows at the former open air swimming pool.

However, Mrs Eccleston explained that alongside sport “he was a very religious man”, an aspect of his life that become more pronounced once, in his early 60s, he was unable to continue his sporting activities.

A member of the congregation at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church for around 80 years, he often helped there and was known by all.

Mr Eccleston’s funeral is due to take place next Friday, March 18, at St Mary’s at 10am.