Graham’s busy, sporty life documented

Graham Tappin pitch-side in the Ashburton Domain on Saturday.

Graham Tappin has been an active sportsman all his life and was still playing competitive cricket at 84.

Mr Tappin, who will be 87 in November, has been a regular visitor to New Zealand since daughter Claire moved here to teach physical education at Ashburton College in 1999.

He made the permanent move in 2016 and lives at Radius Millstream.

Mr Tappin was a boy during World War 2, trained as a mechanic after leaving school aged 15 and later did his two years National Service.

He retrained as a physical education teacher in 1967, a career he enjoyed for nearly 30 years, and has always played, coached and enjoyed his sport.

His full and interesting life story was documented last year in a biography written by Bryan Donaldson through Hospice Mid Canterbury.

It reveals a long and successful sporting career, with highlights including playing county cricket for Kent at over 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s level and an impressive 50 years playing for the Dartford Cricket Club.

Mr Tappin grew up in Kent and his father Albert was a talented footballer, playing for home team Dartford and also professionally and part-time for Fulham.

An entry in the biography recounts a favourite childhood Christmas memory of seeing something hanging from the ceiling over his bed.

“It was a football, the first I had ever had, a second-hand leather one which I kept and used for many years.”

Mr Tappin went on to play semi-professional football for Eastbourne United.

Tall and lean, he had the ideal build for a new challenge he took up in the late 1980s, marathon running.

His first race was the London Marathon in 1989, when at aged 55 he finished the race in a creditable time of 4h:41s.

Six years later he was back and clocked six seconds under the five hour mark.

“At the end of the race organisers handed out foil blankets to prevent us getting cold and I have kept mine as a souvenir of the event.”

Since coming to New Zealand Mr Tappin has taken up bowls, a sport he never played seriously before, but now enjoys at the Allenton club.

He also attends regular exercise classes.

r Tappin was married for 25 years to Karen, before her untimely death in a car accident in 1997.

Today he enjoys keeping up with active grandson Kal, aged three, and watching extended family play Saturday afternoon football in the domain.

“I’m enjoying my twilight years in New Zealand.

“I find the people and climate very similar to England.”

-By Mick Jensen

Hospice Mid Canterbury has provided the biography service since 2015. Some 70 biographies have been written to date and there is a pool of 12 writing volunteers. Email to for more information on the service.

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