The Club has had to deal with some extremely sad news recently and a big loss to our rugby community in the shape of Jonny Grant who was not only a former player but also served the Club as a minis and junior coach, a parent of players and whose father was one of the founders and players in the inaugural HHRFC team some 60 years ago.
The best way to truly represent Jonny and what he meant to so many at Heath RFC is through the words of Simon Critchlow who coached alongside Jonny for many years:
I first met Jonny when I was a new rugby parent with my 5 year old son, ready to be introduced to the sport which I will forever associate with the gruff, gnarly old hooker that was standing before me with 50 small children utterly under his spell. I could never guess that this great bear of a man would become my friend and with whom I would have the huge privilege of working and knowing over many years of ever-close friendship.
I remember looking at Jonny as he weaved his spell around his small charges that day and thinking here was a real rugby man, tough on the outside but a right old softy on the inside. What I could never know without really knowing Jonny was just how much of a team man he was, how incredibly loyal and kind, and just how much he loved and cared for the boys and girls he coached, in the game that gave him so much and for which he was so desperate to give something back.
And how he gave back! Nearly 14 years of coaching across both of his young sons' age groups, with countless hours of planning, phoning, travelling and teaching, all for the love of his fine sons Joseph and Sam and for the love of rugby.
What has been so clear to all of us over the wonderful years of knowing Jonny was just how kind and generous he was and I think these are the qualities that I'll remember him for the most. His generosity of time, of thought, of spirit. The countless little (and sometimes not so little) gifts and gestures which created this wonderfully warm character who could always be counted on to make us laugh and who always had time for anyone. His zest for life, his energy and his iron-clad will to never give in were infectious and inspiring to us all.
Jonny was the kind of guy you'd always want in your team, the guy you look across to when the game is really getting ugly and when you just need to dig deeper than you thought you could possibly dig. You'd reach into your soul for Jonny because you wouldn't want to let him down, because he sure as heck wasn't letting you down. And he never did.
We were all so lucky to have known such a special man at all because true friends like Jonny don't come along very often. I'm proud and privileged to have known Jonny, and to have called him my friend.
Perhaps it was fitting that Jonny's final moments were at the place where he was so happy, Haywards Heath RFC, a Club which his father co-founded and where he played as the 1st XV hooker (aged just 16!) and where he coached with such skill and care for so long. He will always be remembered and greatly missed.
The thoughts and prayers and very best wishes of everyone at the Club go out to Jonny's wife Billy and to his two sons Joseph and Sam. We hope that they can feel the warmth and affection of their rugby family, offering their full support today and in the future.
Jonny's funeral is taking place on Monday 12 November at midday at:
Woodvale Crematorium, North Chapel, Lewes Road, Brighton BN2 3QB
The family have said that it will be a non-traditional service so come as you are: wear what you want.
And afterwards for refreshments, memories and music at:
The Ancient Mariner, 59 Rutland Road, Hove BN3 5FE
Jonny's wife Billy has opened a Just giving page in his memory:
Updated 20:25 - 13 Nov 2018 by Tracey Spuyman