Tributes to Hastings teacher and Olympic torch-bearer

Tributes have been paid this week to a teacher and Olympic torch-bearer, who died following an illness.

David Minett SUS-210103-102906001
David Minett SUS-210103-102906001

David Minett lived in Fairlight most of his life after moving to the area in 1967 from Southend.

He passed away on February 23, aged 82.

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His two daughters, Vanessa Martin and Anna McCollin-Moore, paid tribute to him.

In a statement, they said: “He taught as a lecturer at Hastings College until the early 90s.

“He did two teaching exchanges to Vancouver Island, Canada and Tucson, Arizona, USA, where he had many adventures, including walking the West Coast Trail and rafting down the Grand Canyon.

“He was a maths teacher who was passionate about helping all of his students to pass. He was still teaching privately, until the start of lockdown in March 2020, aged 81.

“His love of adventure was boundless, whisking his family off in their VW camper every year for the whole of the summer. Each holiday was the holiday of a lifetime, spending eight weeks travelling around Europe.

“His ‘short cuts’ were infamous and could include an overnight stay on a mountain side with only the stars to guide him, or a detour to meet a friend he had once met briefly at a railway station. Even a simple trip to post a letter could end up with the return trip going via Spain.

“He was also obsessed with football, with Southend Utd being his team.”

David’s daughters said their late father played for many years for Icklesham Casuals where he made many friends.

He was also a member of Fairlight Coastguards, volunteering his time for many cliff rescues.

They added: “In 2012 he was nominated to carry the Olympic Torch along Hastings seafront, which was the highlight of his life.

“He certainly enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame, even making the news in the south of France where he enjoyed many holidays with his wife and family.

“He was an incredible man who made lifelong friends wherever he went, and thus always had a place to stay throughout the world.

“He was loved by everyone and had the most infectious smile. He was infamous for his ‘bad’ dad jokes, with an unending ability to make people groan in response.”

David’s family said he had been ill for a while since contracting Lyme Disease on one of his many cycle rides around Europe in his early 70s.

Vanessa and Anna said: “Lockdown hit him hard, being such a sociable man, putting an end to his travels, trips and teaching.

“He passed away at the Conquest where the family would like to thank Dr Harrington and Dr Suzanne Jones from Station Plaza, as well as all the staff on Wellington and Egerton wards, and in particular the health care assistants who made sure he was as comfortable as possible in his final days.”

David’s grandaughter, Nicole was born with a serious genetic condition Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1) and his daughter Vanessa set up locally-based charity Childhood Tumour Trust, to support children, young people and their families affected by NF1.

Vanessa said: “To recognise David’s love of travel and education, The David Minett Memorial Fund will be used to issue awards to young people affected by NF1 who want to travel to enhance their education, such as volunteering for Family First an organisation in Ghana supporting children with special needs, attending a Young Advocacy Programme in Austria, or supporting a placement year abroad.

“This award will be available every year so that his name can live on and his legacy of helping young people with NF1 to travel and learn, will continue.”

* Got a story? Ring reporters Richard Gladstone on 07803 505794 or Stephen Wynn-Davies on 07393 754494.

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