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Gliding club's 92-year-old popular and fearless member Ron dies

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Tributes have been paid to a highly popular 92-year-old member of a gliding club who has died.

Ron Courtney, who lived in a small Norfolk village, died on April 17 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King’s Lynn, after contracting the coronavirus and developing Covid-19 symptoms.

A lifelong aviation enthusiast and keen glider with Rattlesden Gliding Club, Mr Courtney took to the skies after his wife died five years ago, having been away from the sport for a number of years.

Ron's love for gliding never faded (34041903)
Ron's love for gliding never faded (34041903)

Mr Courtney was the oldest member of Rattlseden Gliding Club, which has been running since the 1970s and has a membership of around 80 people.

Richard Goodchild, who was Mr Courtney’s friend and instructor, described him as ‘fearless’ when flying.

He said: “In the air, Ron had no fear whatsoever. Some people find gliding quite alarming, but whether he was upside down or the right way up, it didn’t seem to bother Ron.

“He was a pleasure to fly with and was very capable. He enjoyed life and he enjoyed people. He was very popular in the club.”

Having grown up during the Second World War, Mr Courtney had ambitions to serve his country with the RAF, but the war ended before he could join up.

Despite that, Mr Courtney completed his National Service with the RAF as a young man, working as an instruments technician.

Ron was very active even in later life (34208948)
Ron was very active even in later life (34208948)

He discovered gliding soon after and quickly became highly accomplished as a pilot.

He went on to complete solo flights before losing touch with the sport due to work and family commitments.

During his career, he worked as head watchmaker for Rolex and went on to run a watchmaker and jewellers store for 20 years in Long Melford.

As well as being a lifelong gliding enthusiast, Mr Courtney also enjoyed music and played the piano right up until he fell ill.

His son Ashley, 52, said: “He was a very affable chap who would get on with anyone really. He never thought of himself as old and didn’t like just sitting around.”

He added that one of the things he had learned from his father and applied to his own profession as an architect was the ‘attention to detail’ he applied to working with watches and clocks.

Describing his father’s very active, full life, he said: “He never seemed to tire. It was extraordinary.”

Ron Courtney’s cremation service will take place on May 6 in King’s Lynn.