OCTOBER 20TH 1978 - JUNE 2ND 2010
Garry and Roz Purdham

Ros, Cameron and Flynn

Wife and Sons

To know, like and love Garry Purdham was a very easy thing to do, but to describe him accurately is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.

Garry’s life was happy – in all areas – a status that very few people ever achieve. Garry’s priorities and focus in life were his family and friends, his work and job on the farm and, of course, his Rugby. I don’t know how he did it and fitted everything in, but Garry was committed and successful in the things that he loved.

Garry farmed every day of his working life – alarm going off at 5.30am and coming home at 6.30 at night – long, long hours but he loved it and he wouldn’t have chosen anything else. Garry died on the farm doing the job he loved – he was in the RIGHT place at the wrong time.

Rugby was another huge source of pleasure and enjoyment in Garry’s life – he was good at it, achieved success and made fantastic lifelong friends who miss him terribly.

Egremont – Whitehaven – Workington – it didn’t matter who it was, he was committed and gave 110% in every training session and game he played in.

From playing to coaching, Garry never gave up his involvement with Rugby – a part of his life to which he had given so much and, in return, gave him so much back. Cameron, our 8 year old, has the same passion, one which I will ensure is nurtured for as long as I am able.

Garry was also devoted to his family – not only to his mum and dad on the farm, but also encouraging his younger brother Rob, who he wanted nothing but the best for, and Becky, his sister, who is a really successful nurse.

I met Garry in 1997 and we married in July 2000 – the best party we ever had. In 2001 we had Cameron, so like his dad in every way – looks, temperament and habits – also devoted to the farm and his Rugby – he was the only child I knew, who at age three, could explain to me the decisions made by the referees on Super League which seemed to be never off the TV in our house.

Flynn came along in 2007, although very different in temperament, still shares the same passions in Rugby and farming. Both boys miss their dad incredibly but are so proud of what he did and achieved in the time they shared with him.

Below are some of the words and phrases which the boys used to describe and remember their dad:-

"better out than in" "funny" "happy" "good at playing" "silly" "clever" "hard working" "late" "gaggy" "our daddy"

The void that the 2nd June created in our lives is indescribable and one which will never be filled. We miss him every minute of every day and will do so for the rest of our lives.

Until June 2nd, I used to think Garry was just ‘ours’ – mine and the boys – but now I realise I was wrong – the incredible support and cards we have received, all with different memories of Garry showed how much he meant to everyone, how many lives he touched and how many people loved him.

What a legacy he has left behind – if in anyone’s lifetime they achieve what Garry did then they too will be one of the most incredibly special people in this world.

David Bowden

Chairman, Workington Town RLFC

Garry Purdham joined Workington Town from Whitehaven in 2005 and was a regular until 2008. The club had admired both the Purdham boys for some time ever since they had the audacity, along with their Egremont Team mates, to dump Town out of the Challenge Cup. It was a surprise and a delight when he eventually became available, having proved his abilities as a professional at Whitehaven.. The club had no hesitation in moving quickly to secure his services after an initial loan period.

He made his debut in a victory against York City Knights. I recall two players catching the eye that day, Lusi Sionni in attack and Garry in defence, we were confident Garry would be a great acquisition.

That confidence was well founded as Garry played a total of 59 games, scoring 5 tries. He was what can only be described as the model professional – a great trainer with a superb attitude to the game. He certainly wasn’t an extrovert player on the pitch or a headline grabber, he would never have wanted to be, but went about his work quietly and effectively, always figuring highly in the tackle count or the number of balls taken in.

It was on away journey’s that I got to know Garry. Garry always sat in the middle of the bus, away from the noise that usually emminates from the back seat. He probably enjoyed the rest after the game as he’d probably had a stint on the farm before turning up or had another when he returned home. We’d have a chat about the game, Gary wasn’t one for blaming referees or making the usual lame excuses we are all prone to after a defeat, his verdict on our performance was totally honest and objective. That dry sense of humour came in though if he thought anyone was shirking their duties!

When reflecting on some of our conversations I can now recall that whenever anyone commented on his efforts. or the fact that he’d played well , he never wished to labour the point, quickly moving the conversation on to the team, or another issue, showing signs of embarrassment that someone should be praising him individually.

It is quite amazing, but not really surprising, how consistent the words used to describe Garry from all sources have been, both as a player and a person. As a player “hard working”, “a team player”, “wonderful to coach”, “a respected and popular team mate”.

As a person, “modest”, “unassuming”, “a calm temperament”, “a dry sense of humour”. And we have over the ensuing months had something of an insight into Garry the family man.

That consistency is there because Garry displayed those qualities CONSISTENTLY. He always seemed to have time to think before he said anything and as a result, unlike the rest of us, never seemed to make any remarks he would regret later.

These qualities would be much appreciated anywhere, but particularly I think in West Cumbria, where the brash and boastful are not appreciated, whilst the modest and unassuming achievers are.

That is why this community has taken the loss of a man like Garry so much to heart.

He is the reason why the Rugby League fraternity have come together so energetically to do whatever we can for Garry’s special family and to celebrate Garry’s life.

He is the reason why I know the population of West Cumbria in particular will support the Cumbria v England game in their thousands.

And It is the reason why, when things seem at their worst, we all dig deep to do whatever we can . Because like Garry , we are all proud to be Cumbrians. Today is a proud day for Roz and all the family and a great Rugby League occasion for Cumbria. Please enjoy the game, I’m certain Garry would wish you all to do so.

John Cox

BBC Radio Cumbria

The 2002 season was a high point for Garry. He scored seven tries in Whitehaven’s first team. That was half the total over his entire career at the Recreation Ground. If you asked him about the tries he wouldn’t remember – he was far more interested in keeping the other side from scoring – a defensive rock.

Garry joined Whitehaven, with brother Rob, in 1999. They had both been part of the all-conquering Egremont Rangers side. They both made an immediate impact. Ability was never in question – they both had that in abundance. For Haven fans on the terraces they loved Garry for his sheer commitment to the cause. He was an honest, family man who epitomised everything that is good about the game, both on and off the field.

I can still see him colliding with an opponent on the half-way line. Nothing dirty, nothing underhand – just sheer athleticism, ability and integrity. The sort of lad any coach would dream about.

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latest news

Rugby League fans leave Cumbian legacy

RUGBY league fans in Cumbria and throughout the game have helped to leave a lasting legacy in memory of the late Garry Purdham after it was revealed that this year's England v Cumbria clash raised over £76,000 for his family.


Quins’ England hopefuls keen to honour Garry

Harlequins RL players and England squad members Tony Clubb and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook are eager to pay their respect to Garry Purdham in the Cumbria v England memorial match at Whitehaven’s Recreation Ground on Sunday October 3. Named in Steve McNamara’s initial fall-out squad for the Four Nations tournament, both players are team-mates of Garry’s brother Rob Purdham, who will captain the Cumbria side, and they tell SLTV just how much this match means to them.


England star Harrison hoping for Cumbrian highlight

Proud Cumbrian Challenge Cup winner Ben Harrison is promising that England will deliver a performance of the highest calibre when they face his home county in the Garry Purdham Memorial Match at The Recreation Ground on Sunday week. The 22-year-old Barrow-born back rower was one of the stars of the Warrington Wolves team that won Rugby League’s most famous trophy for a second successive year at Wembley last month and is looking forward to making an emotional return to Whitehaven.