Tributes paid to Norwich Christian football pioneer
Tributes have been paid to former deputy head teacher, founder of the Norfolk Christian Football Youth League and Norwich Christian community activist, Tim Stapleford.
Tim (55) passed away yesterday afternoon (June 22) at home in Cringleford in the arms of his devoted wife of 27 years Sue, after a brave year-long battle against neuro-endochrine cancer.
Sue said: “We truly believed Tim would be healed in this life, but God's purpose was for him to die today. We have been surrounded by love and grace for the last year, and hope has kept us strong. Of course, I'm devastated but relieved that his pain is over. God has been our rock. Tim has served Him faithfully and I have been truly blessed to have shared my life with him.”
The couple met at Holy Trinity church in Norwich in November 1987, married in October 1988 and have four children, Katrina, Deborah, Gemma and Daniel, all born between 1993 and 1999.
Tim taught at Wroughton Middle and was deputy head of Attleborough Junior between 1996 and 2008. He then became a supply teacher for St Francis Primary in Norwich.
The couple worshipped at Holy Trinity until last year when they moved to St Stephen’s in Norwich city centre.
Tim was perhaps best known for his key role in the development of the Norfolk Christian Football League, and especially its Youth League, which started in 1995 because of Tim’s vision and passion. Many children in churches found it difficult to play competitive football as it took place on a Sunday morning. The youth league, played on a Saturday morning, provided that opportunity and it now comprises almost 30 teams and around 300 players.
Tim was involved in the league for almost 30 years and fulfilled almost every possible role as league chairman, vice chairman, referee, team manager and player for Holy Trinity. In 2012 he was awarded the league’s Sam Hollinger Trophy for his long service. In 2012 Tim was also nominated to be one of the Olympic Torch bearers.
League chairman, Mike Culwick, paid tribute, saying: “Tim has been an inspiration for so many of us in the league, as founder of the youth league in 1995, and without him I don’t think the Christian League could have survived. His faith continued to amaze us all.”
A year after the London Olympic Games Tim was the driving force behind a Community Games event in Norwich, organised by Holy Trinity for which he was given a Shining Light Award which he received in person from London Olympics chairman Lord Sebastian Coe.
The event was held at the Jenny Lind Park and the nearby Bignold School field and was part of an initiative started by Holy Trinity for the Vauxhall Street area of its parish.
Tim's commitment to the outreach work in the Jenny Lind Park was acknowledged in October 2014 when
he was presented with the Norfolk Police Community Citizen of the Year award
at the Norfolk Safer Community Awards (pictured right).
Tim organised weekly football sessions, with the support of Holy Trinity Church, the police and Norwich City Council at the Jenny Lind Park in Norwich for local eight to 25 year-olds. The project was a resounding success, with positive relationships forged between the young people and the organisations involved, and a proven reduction in anti-social behaviour. Tim was a key part of a dedicated team committed to social outreach in the area which included taking out a tenancy agreement on the old post office opposite the park as a base.
Tim was also a key organiser of the Dove Men’s Christian Fellowship
which has met in Norwich city centre over many years.
Tim's thanksgiving service is on July 28, at 11am, at Holy Trinity, Essex Street in Norwich. Any donations to the Christian Community Trust for Norwich which will continue Tim's work on Jenny Lind Park.
If you would like to add your own memories or tributes to Tim, please add them below or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Read a further tribute to Tim on EDP24
Pictured top is Tim Stapleford with wife Sue in London last week and, above, with his Norfolk Police Community Citizen award.